Last Sunday Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He came as the Messiah who was less than what everyone expected. He was greeted first, last Sunday, by the enthusiasm of his followers, but by Monday he was already beginning not to make friends. He walked into the temple and criticized the people and the Jewish leaders for how polluted their worship had become. He turned over tables and he cracked a whip and explained that the temple — his Father’s house — was to be a house of prayer for all nations, not a money-making enterprise.
Then on Tuesday he walked in and out of debates with the Jewish leaders as they tried over and over again to stump him with questions. Then on Wednesday — Spy Wednesday — Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, slipped away to visit the Jewish leaders and he asked them, “What will you pay me if I hand Jesus over to you?”
They said they would give him thirty pieces of silver, which is around 200 bucks, and Judas took the money.
Then on Thursday late in the night, after Jesus had shared the Passover meal with his disciples, and after sweating drops of blood and praying with agony in the Garden, Judas walked up to Jesus leading a mob of men with swords and clubs, and they seized Jesus. And then the disciples — all the disciples — deserted Jesus and fled.
And then as Thursday night became early Friday morning, Peter denied Jesus three times; the Jewish leaders issued Jesus the sentence of death; the Roman governor Pilate played the coward and delivered Jesus over to the will of the people who shouted for his crucifixion.
By noon on Friday Jesus hung on a cross gasping for air. The land was in complete darkness. And as he was taking in his final breaths people walked past him and derided him, mocked him, reviled him.
And around 3:00 in the afternoon, after being betrayed by one disciple, and abandoned by the other disciples, and denied by his closest disciple, Jesus, with what little strength he had left, cried out with a loud voice: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” . . . .
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
A few moments later Jesus died. And one of his followers got permission to take his body off the cross and he buried him in a tomb, and he rolled a big stone in front of the opening. Saturday came and went in silence, and then, on Sunday morning, just as the sun was rising, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb, and the stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty, and an angel appeared to them and stated the most amazing fact in human history with the simplest of human words. The angel said: “He is not here, for he has risen.”
Jesus was raised from the dead, and everything about everything was forever changed. And my exhortation for us this morning is to remember that it really is everything that is changed. Everything about the world is changed because now we know that every piece of this world is trending toward that day when Jesus makes it new and glorious. And everything about ourselves is changed because now we know that there’s nothing about ourselves that we can view as outside of the saving power of Jesus. We will be as fully saved as he is fully alive.
There is nothing now that is not different. Everything is changed.
Prayer of Confession
Everything is changed, but Lord Jesus, we don’t feel it. Too often we have tried to squelch the transforming effects of your resurrection, and for that, we repent. We repent, Lord Jesus, and ask that you would forgive us for being so busy trying to resurrect our own circumstances that we’ve forgotten the resurrected life that you offer us.
We have read about your resurrection, and we sing about it — We know that you are raised! — but we need, Lord Jesus, so badly to know your resurrection more powerfully in the tiny details of our lives.
We ask, Jesus, that you be our resurrected King on Sunday morning, and on Monday morning, when we are with our friends and when we are alone, when we are happy with our work and when we are disappointed with our labor. Make us feel with more depth and magnitude the death-defeating wonder of your love, and make us rest and relax in the head-turning paradox of your grace. Intoxicate us with your mercy, and sober us up with your patience. Make us meet you ferocious in your kindness, and intense in your composure, and straightforward in your comfort.
We ask, Lord Jesus, that you make us see you so kind and calm and gracious that you heard Thomas say, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25) — you are so kind and calm and gracious that you heard Thomas say that and then you came to him and said, “Thomas, put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (20:27).
That’s what you said to Thomas, Jesus, and that’s what you say to us this morning. You want us to believe. And so we pray, Lord Jesus, that you command what you will and will what you command, even now as we confess our sins to you in silence. . . .