As dawn broke that morning the shroud of sorrow that had covered them for the past days seemed strangely different. But why should it? Today His body would be prepared with spices by some of the women who had followed Him.
They were still afraid… still hiding, and yet there was something in the periphery of their minds, something just buzzing in and out between their subconscious and coherent thought that would not let them go. Though He had been laid in a guarded tomb, something within them would not let them bury this and just move on.
What had He said before that just wouldn’t come fully to mind? Had He told them this would happen?
Suddenly, Mary burst in the door shouting hysterically: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
What else could go wrong?!?! Two of them bolted for the place where He was laid. Sure enough, He was not there – Neither were the Roman guards that had been stationed there. Strangely though, the burial clothes rested on the table where his body had been… the cloth that had covered His face was folded neatly aside, but the rest were not unwrapped, instead they were vacated as though the body had disintegrated or vaporized! How could any of this be?
They left bewildered… trying harder than ever to remember His instructions to them. There was nothing left to do but return to their hiding place – hole up, grieve and pray.
Mary interrupted the silent tears again exuberantly, almost incoherently exclaiming something about seeing Him in the garden after they had left. They rationalized that she must have been mistaken and in denial… So they locked the doors and hid… and trembled… and wondered…
That night as darkness fell the anxiety increased in this little group who were huddled behind their locked doors. Suddenly, a voice they never had dreamed in their slimmest of hopes they would hear again pierced the silence and startled them out of their stupor. It said, “Peace be with you!”
PEACE?!?! How could there be peace? He was gone and now they were delusional… because some had seen Him die, the rest had minimally seen the guarded grave – He was Dead, there was no doubt about it… And yet, here He was… Right before them – What in Heaven’s name was going on?
Their hearts nearly stopped from joy and shock when He showed them His scars. It was Him and He was ALIVE!!! It all made sense now… He HAD told them He had to die, but He had also hinted that death would not be the end of the story – He had promised that He would never leave them… Actually, He said that He would never, never, never , Never, NEVER leave them or turn them away!
So, now that He was back and had proved His ultimate power and authority, certainly He would begin the conquest now. But He said that He would not now – not in the way they had expected anyway… But really, had He EVER done things the way they expected?
He instead told them they were to take His message of peace, hope and love to everyone on earth! They could be confident that because of what He had done in dying for them – in dying for the world He had fulfilled all their previous hopes and dreams and had flung open the lanes of fellowship between God and man… And He had validated and sealed the sacrifice by rising from the dead…
No one would retract the story of His death… why should they? He really had died.
Because He was Alive, they now understood… Not only was He the Son of God – He IS God and He always will be! And now He has gone to prepare an eternal home for all who place all their trust in Him…
Now they fully understood this: there was no way to remain silent – there was no reason to hide. Nothing, not even death had power over Him, so it had no power over them! The revolution HAD begun, but it was not a violent uprising – Instead, they began to shout out to all who would give an ear – a continual outpouring of grace, peace, love and hope…
And the refrain has echoed from the hearts and lips of His children throughout the years ever since: “HE IS RISEN – HE IS RISEN INDEED!” Hope Reigns eternal…
All because Jesus is King and He… is… with us!
Are Christians Sociopaths?
Are Christians, particularly Christians in America, sociopathic?
What started as an off the cuff remark I made during a recent sermon at my Church (Legacy Church, in Kansas City, MO) has begun to legitimately haunt me (you can hear the sermon here)…
Christian… Sociopath… These are two words that on the surface seem completely incompatible. Acts 11:26 tells us that the term “Christian” was first used of disciples in the Antioch church. This was initially used as an insult in that people were saying they were “little Christs”. In other words, they were just like Jesus, who because of His great love for people, voluntarily died to pay for the sins of the world. On the other hand – the dictionary defines sociopath as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” Another says that “Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.”
How can someone who is living a life that is reminiscent of a man whose critics admit was at least a good person and moral teacher exhibit behavior or attitudes that are patently selfish and apathetic to others? However, in spite of the apparent contradiction, I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, the answer is closer to “yes” than any of us who call ourselves a Christian would like to admit… And it tears me up inside… Let me allow this clip from Atheist Magician and Comedian Penn Jillette to begin to explain what I mean:
“How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” There is the rub… Way too many “Christians” fall in a daily routine and are comfortable to coast through life without a broken heart for their friends and family who, if what we believe is really true, are destined for an eternity without God… Well… to be honest that is the essence of selfishly living life “without concern for the effects of their behavior [or lack thereof] on others”, isn’t it???
We certainly shouldn’t be comfortable with it… But sadly I think that may just be the problem… our comfort. Because we are relatively comfortable, especially in comparison to most of the rest of the world, we just get into auto pilot and unintentionally slip into apathy. It’s not a conscious thing, but it occurs anyway… and it’s tragic.
Penn said “There comes a point where I tackle you… and this is more important than that.” Because people’s eternities are so important, our “social conscience” should remind us that we have a “moral responsibility” to love those around us enough to take the risk of offending them or losing a friendship to in a sense “tackle” them by sharing the truth about Jesus…
Let’s pray to God for forgiveness for our sociopathic tendencies and begin to live a life that actually reflects our name-sake, Jesus… and refuse to scoot through life uncaring and unaffected by the many people we know who do not yet have a relationship with Him.