I Have Seen the Lord!

You Are Beloved“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’…”  (John 20:18)

I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like that first Easter day.  Of course it wasn’t called “Easter”; there were no colored eggs in baskets; no Cadbury bunnies; and no new shoes.  Depending on which version of the story you read you will notice the day was either, very loud or very quiet; very clear or very confused; filled with wonder or gripped in fear.  The one thing that is clear in all the stories is: Christ is risen indeed, just as he said.  Alleluia!

I have tried to think about resurrection in terms of what that might mean if we were talking about a family member or a friend instead of Jesus.  To find out that someone we loved was truly raised from the dead might be a bit of a shock, but certainly we would come to a place of great joy.  I imagine it would be very hard to believe at first, but when we actually had the chance to see and speak to them we would be convinced, wouldn’t we?  “I have seen Uncle George!”

Of course, this scenario seems a little silly, doesn’t it?  Regular people don’t get raised from the dead the way Jesus was.  We know how final death is because we have experienced it with someone we loved and we know they are not going to be walking around three days later.  That’s not the way the world works.  That is why this resurrection story is so hard to believe.  It was hard for the disciples to believe…Luke tells us they thought Mary’s story “seemed like an idle tale.”  (Luke 24:11)  Now here we are again faced with trying to understand Mary as she shouts to us, “I have seen the Lord”.

Ultimately, the disciples came to understand and believe what Mary said.  Of course, they had the benefit of seeing Jesus for themselves at some point in the story.  Even Thomas put his hand in Jesus’ wounds to help him believe.  The great wonder of the Easter story is that millions of people have heard it and continue to understand and believe it in spite of the fact that they have no opportunity to say for themselves, “I have seen the Lord”…or do they?

I think it might depend on how you think about what it means to “see” the Lord.

We have been taught since we were children in Sunday school that we are supposed to follow Jesus’ example in terms of the way we treat each other and the way in which we behave every day.  It seems to me that is how people get the chance to “see” Jesus” even though he left the earth over two thousand years ago.  Jesus told his disciples, Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”  (John 14:9)  In the same way, anyone who sees us also sees the One we emulate.  Now, think about that for a minute.

When was the last time you interacted with someone and then thought to yourself, I have seen the Lord”?  When was the last time another person said that after meeting you?  If other people are not thinking, I have seen the Lord” after meeting you, what are they thinking?

This Easter season I pray that all of us will spend some time discovering who the Resurrected Jesus really is and then find more ways to help people see that Jesus.  Jesus was not a judgmental, criticizing, selfish person.  Jesus was forgiving, tolerant, and willing to love and accept all people.  Jesus had high expectations for people, but he understood that we are not perfect and he was willing to work with our flaws and our mis-steps and our sinfulness.  He did not reject people who didn’t fit in or who failed to measure up.  He did not condemn; he offered grace and forgiveness and a path to follow where everyone, even you, are welcome.

Easter calls us to re-discover the Living Christ and do the hard work of following him.  If we can do this; if we can begin to behave more like Jesus, then more people will walk away from you saying, I have seen the Lord!”

In His Name,
Pastor Don