I probably should have taken a picture of the cute Easter cards I sent my Dad, Mom, and Grandma this week, but didn't think about it sooner. (Don't worry--I have others just like them I could take a picture of to show you.) I just wanted to wish you all a Happy Easter.
We went to a wonderful, illustrated Easter service tonight. Before it started, I wondered why I do that to myself year after year. It's hard (for me) to re-live what Jesus went through. To see him whipped, mocked, jeered, crucified and all the while sticking to his plan is really amazing. He'd let nothing deter him from us. I couldn't have done it (and that's what I tell him as I'm watching "him" get whipped). I'm glad he did do it.
Tonight, I really emphasized with Peter. I wish I could say I was like a Peter, but of all Jesus' disciples, I'm probably most like Thomas striving to be like Peter. (Same thing with Mary and Martha--I wish I was a Mary sitting at Jesus' feet, but I like to make sure everyone is taken care of so I would have been slaving away in the kitchen wishing I could be out sitting at Jesus' feet and resenting Mary a bit. But hey, everyone wants to eat, though, right? Someone's got to cook the food.) Peter just loves Jesus. He met him when he was just working at his job, fishing, and he was never the same again. Jesus told all the disciples many times exactly what was going to happen to him, but when it actually happened, it seemed so unbelievable to them. He had a way of talking that was so direct and straightforward, yet so profound and so riddle like. Peter just didn't get it. None of them did. They didn't understand when he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and asked them to pray with him, but they fell asleep. They had no idea what was going on and no inkling of things to come, despite Jesus having told them. And Peter was so striken when he denied Jesus those three times and realized what he had done. And then they took Jesus and crucified him and there was Peter, devastated because of what he had done and because Jesus was gone. What a dark few days for them until they found out the tomb was empty. When they went rushing to see and indeed, found it empty, then in a burst of light Jesus appears. Peter grabs Jesus in a massive bear hug and just squeezes him so tight. Jesus motions to Peter to go tell the others he is alive and Peter starts to run off to do it, then abruptly turns around and runs full on at Jesus and grabs him again in an exuberant hug and lifts him right off his feet. He finally sets him down and runs off to tell the others. Peter just goes full tilt. And on Peter, the rock, Jesus built the church. Amazing.
It's the same with others--Lazarus, the woman with the issue of blood, the woman caught in the act of adultery, the leper. Seems like anyone who had looked at Jesus, who had Jesus look at them, speak to them, or touch them in any way, was never the same. I think when he looked at them, they could see it in his eyes. His eyes must radiate such intense love, power, and assurance that they couldn't help but be changed by him. I think it is the same today. Anyone who has encountered Jesus, has had divine intervention, who has been overwhelmed by his love and his goodness and his graciousness, who has truly seen him, isn't the same. I've encountered Jesus and I'm not the same. If you haven't encountered Jesus yet, just wait. He knows where you are and he cares about you. I have a feeling when you look in his eyes, you won't be the same either.
So, on this Easter Sunday, I wish I could say you'll find me out with a palm branch in the street laughing, dancing, singing, crying, and shouting "Hosanna in the Highest." That would, of course, all hinge on Jesus riding down my street on a donkey and the availability of a palm branch. I have a feeling, though, if Jesus were to ride down my street, I'd be in a pile wherever I fell totally overwhelmed by his presence with tears streaming down my face unable to speak a word. But in my heart, I'd be dancing, singing, and shouting "Hosanna!"