I can identify with just about everyone in the Easter story. Just about.
Peter’s denial rings so true that I weep. Good intentions and desires often fall victim to my human heart and I fail.
Thomas, dear Thomas. How I, we, too often want proof…we aren’t comfortable with the mystery – would prefer certainty, thank you very much!
And Judas….oh Judas. For me, Judas is perhaps the most tragic figure in all of human history. I feel Judas in me each and every time I attempt to get ahead of God’s will…to try and nudge God into action that fits my timeline. Judas is there. My heart hurts for Judas.
I can relate to Pilate who in this unwillingness to speak up…to speak truth to his knowing and his understanding -even as an outsider. In his attempt to wash his hands of an ugly situation becomes a party to an act of murder. There is a lesson there.
And Caiphas and the high priest – their need to protect what they believe to be truth completely blinds them to the God who stands before them. They are looking for God in the temple and miss that God is instead breaking bread with the outcast, healing sinners, and listening to the broken. So convinced are they in their own understanding that they try and kill the God they profess to worship and love.
And mother Mary – my mother’s heart breaks for her. I see her at the cross and for a moment when I try and stand in her place the tears stream for the loss of a beloved child.
Mary Magdalene – John tells us she is the first to see the truth. To know that the story is not yet complete. At the intimate saying of her name, “Mary”, she is given the gift of knowing the Christ lives. I break into a large grin when I imagine her joy.
It is of course Jesus and his actions that stump me every time. I am like a voyeur reading the gospel accounts – I see myself peering around corners, listening, questioning, trying to understand. I follow behind as Jesus teaches beside lakes, in the temple, next to tax collectors. When riding a donkey into Jerusalem I walk behind maybe even adding my shouts to the chorus of followers – at once in triumph and then in accusation. But I know – we know what comes next.
Jesus is charged and sentenced by Roman law. In the violent world of the Roman Empire, he is given the cruelest and harshest of sentences – crucifixion. After turning over his life and death to God – he accepts God’s will. In the midst of his pain and suffering he choses grace and forgiveness. And in so doing, he transforms an ugly symbol of execution into a symbol of redemptive and co-suffering love. He gives us a vision of another way.
His life overcame death – physical, emotional and spiritual death. He teaches us how to awaken from our own tombs – tombs formed from disease, addiction and despair – to rise up, to come out and to follow a loving God into a hurting world.
This is a story for our time – for our world. Because God so loved the world – because of Easter morning, there is always Hope.