It is the Monday after Easter, Resurrection Day, the celebration of new life given like the first breath in our lungs. I pray that, this year, it’s more than just the day after a holiday. I pray it’s the year we see Jesus. Really see Him, really embrace every nuanced moment of His presence both before and after the cross. I pray His words become our reality.
And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.” John 12:32
He said it wouldn’t be easy to say “yes” to Him. He said it wasn’t for the faint-hearted or those simply wanting a hand-out.
He said He was God, and yet said He was a servant. He proved He was both.
He told us poverty never leaves and always has a purpose – and that purpose is us.
He touched pain and He held disease and He never said it was too much.
He proved that love that’s manipulated or coerced or forced isn’t love at all.
That there is not one thing that keeps a door closed to love outside of our own white-knuckled fury on the knob.
That what matters in this world is not what we can gather up in this world.
That hands always open to give receive gifts that can’t be measured.
That grace is only graceful if it’s grace-full.
That the right choice is never about us.
That doing right trumps being right.
That prayer is talking and listening and breathing.
That forgiveness sets hearts free.
That getting low to hold a hand or write “you are loved” in dirt is a worthy thing.
That entitlement and privilege are other words for pride.
That pride knows no color or class, and fear finds its place where pride finds its home.
That evil is but a ghost that rattles broken chains loudly.
That people are more than their possessions.
That love wins.
That endings aren’t really endings at all.
That life matters. All life. Always.
That life always springs forth.
It can always be redeemed.
Always be restored.
Always made new.
Before He was arrested and accused and crucified with criminals, Jesus sat down for dinner with the friends He had known for three years. He fed them and poured wine and He asked them to never forget the moment—because His life was wrapped in it. He looked in the face of the ones who would deny him, the ones who would fight over who deserved the better seat, and even the face of the one who would sell His soul for a bag of money.
Then, He washed their filthy feet. And He asked them to do just one thing.
Love each other well.
After His arrest, Jesus witnessed life-long enemies become friends when His destruction became their common goal, and He didn’t cry foul. He could have opened the pages that described exactly what they were doing and would do, but He didn’t. Silence would shout the words later.
He was unafraid to pray, unafraid to ask that things be different, unafraid to let His own questions wash away with tears that trusted in something more.
When a well-known criminal was given pardon while Jesus prepared for death, He didn’t argue His case or demand His freedom. He believed in dignity. When bits of flesh were ripped from his back by a cat of nine tails whip, Jesus didn’t glare. Instead, He took every blow.
Every single one.
He made sure His mom was taken care of before He died. And He looked in the face of those who decided His life wasn’t worth much and said, “It’s OK. I understand. I forgive you now—and I will never put you to shame.”
Even after He had folded the burial clothes and tidied up the tomb and walked away from death that thought it had won, He looked people in the eye and called them by name. He talked to Mary and the women first because He loved their leadership. He let Thomas, the one who always tried but always struggled with doubt, touch the very places where the nails and spear had sliced through flesh and muscle and nerve.
Jesus made a fried fish breakfast for Peter, the one who had denied Him three times when fear whispered “keep yourself safe” – and then asked him to be a shepherd of people.
Jesus walked for hours with two men who thought hope had died forever on a cross. He listened intently. He ate with them. And when He spoke, it was with wisdom and grace. He never made them feel stupid. He never made them feel small. He spoke truth—and they came alive.
This Jesus says “come.” Jesus says, “Trust me. I won’t let you out of My sight.” Jesus says, “It’s not easy—but I’m here to carry.”
Jesus says, “Now.”
And so I pray that, this year, we believe.