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Seeing Jesus: An Easter Reflection

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A donkey’s rider.
Palm branches above and below.
Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

. . .

Feet washed, the final feast.
Garden prayers lifted.
A traitor revealed.

. . .

Thorns, spears, nails.
Denials, heartbreak.

. . .

Women searching.
Anguished, inconsolable.
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

. . .

The stone is rolled away!
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”

. . .

In each of these scenes, we have the advantage of hindsight — we know how it all ends. We feel the rhythm of Holy Week year after year: from the swelling excitement of Palm Sunday to the cavernous depths of Good Friday, back even higher to the astonishing goodness of Easter Sunday. We know that, as Jesus says, our “grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20), that evil has not won, that Jesus does not stay in the grave.

But what must it have been like for the crowds on Palm Sunday? What must it have been like for Jesus’ devoted followers like Mary Magdalene and Peter at Jesus’ arrest? And how could Judas have done what he did?

Though Jesus had talked about his death and resurrection numerous times (Mark 8:31-33, 9:30-32, 10:32-34) the picture was incomplete. His followers weren’t able to understand the full meaning of Jesus’ words.

I remember when my three-year-old daughter put on her glasses for the first time. Eyes wide, she slowly and silently took in her surroundings. Her movements were exaggerated as she plodded around the room, looking down, looking up, turning around in a circle. Finally, she said, “Hi, Mommy! I see you!” waving and beaming.

Before wearing glasses, my daughter had no concept of a clear, focused view of the world. Her picture was limited and incomplete.

It’s like the crowds following Jesus throughout his ministry didn’t have their glasses on — they viewed him as a prophet, as a healer, as a liberator. And he was each of those things, but also so much more. He wasn’t just a prophet; he was God’s own son! He was a healer not just of the body, but of the soul! He was a great liberator, not from Rome, but from sin and death itself!

Their view was full of human hopes and expectations. Of what they thought the Messiah was and what he should do, which included political freedom and deliverance from Rome. Their view was blurry and unfocused. They didn’t have the whole picture.

But we do. We are on the other side, knowing that Jesus conquered sin and death — he is life itself. We have experienced the freedom and hope that he brings!

Yet, how often do we live a myopic life? How often do we choose to take our glasses off? To get distracted by our screens and believe the lie that our own happiness is what matters most? To pin our own earthly expectations and hopes on Jesus, rather than truly seeing the complete picture of the gospel?

This Easter, let’s remember and accept and celebrate the incredible sacrifice of Jesus. Let’s worship with abandon our risen King. May we declare, out loud, that he is victorious, he is the giver of life, he is our freedom. And let’s not be shy about spreading this Good News to others!

Let’s choose to put on our glasses, reminding ourselves that though we know the end of one part of the story, it’s not quite done yet. The Good News keeps getting better — Jesus is coming back. Let’s yearn for this day!

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