By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
You were there when the angel appeared to Mary. You heard the angel say, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” You felt it. The hope, the finality in the statement. The words dripped with wonder and longing. Finally, a Savior has come and He will be born to a virgin.
You were there when He was separated from His parents. You were there when they found Him in the temple courts, listening to the teachers and asking questions. You heard Him say, “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” They did not understand, but you did. Truly, He is the Son of God.
You were there at His baptism. You watched as He waded out into the water in front of the crowd. You were there as John the Baptist’s eyes went wide and as he saw who approached him. You saw John baptize Jesus. You listened as Jesus prayed, His voice filtering through the entire crowd. You looked on in amazement as the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and you heard God’s voice boom, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
You walked with Jesus in the wilderness as He was tested. You saw that He faced temptation just like any human but He did not fall prey to it. You were there when He preached in the synagogue. You heard Him read from the prophet Isaiah. You heard him say with authority, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” You feel your face grow hot and your blood begins to boil. You grow angry by what He implies. You, along with the crowd, drive Jesus to the edge of the city. You agree that it is best that you cast Him off the edge of the cliff. But, instead, Jesus walks right through the crowd and goes on His way.
You were there when He drove out the impure spirits. You heard them proclaim Him as the Son of God. You looked on as He healed many people. The sick, the invalid, the cripple, they all came and were healed.
You were there in the boat. Your back was aching and the back of your neck was sunburnt. You had been slaving away all day and had yet to catch any fish. Suddenly, Christ approaches, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” You are suspicious at first but you eventually comply. Your net fills with a multitude of fish, so many that the net began to tear. You fall at Jesus’ feet when you see the astonishing feat. Now you will fish for people.
You sit squarely behind your tax booth. Coins are stacked on the table in front of your and they bulge in the pockets of your cloak. But then a man approaches. There is something different about Him. He does not look at you in anger or contempt as so many do. Instead, He looks on you with compassion, as if He knows your entire life story. He says, “Follow me.” So you get up and follow.
You lounged at the table with Jesus. You sat right beside Him when the woman entered. You grimaced when she knelt at His feet and washed His feet with her tears. You were there when He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
You saw lepers cured and the paralyzed get up and walk. You saw miracles performed. You saw thousands fed. You saw the dead raised. You saw people freed. You saw sins forgiven.
You sat around the fire with Christ. You saw His eyes rest upon you across the flames. He opened His mouth to speak, “Who do you say I am?” He asked you. You tell Him your answer, but do you believe it? Deep down in your heart, do you know it to be true? “God’s Messiah,” you answered.
You stood in awe on the mountain as Jesus’ face changed and His clothes shone bright as the sun. Your mouth hung open as you squinted into the light to see Moses and Elijah standing before you talking to Jesus. You didn’t know what to say or to think. Suddenly you heard a familiar voice once again say, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” The light faded and Jesus stood before you. Everything was back to normal. But then again, had there ever been a normal?
You were present each and every time Jesus told a parable. You thought that with each one you might be able to gain some kind of understanding as to what He is saying. But instead, you remained fixed in confusion. You listened as He spoke of the kingdom of God. But you were baffled. It doesn’t sound like any kingdom you have ever heard of.
You listened on with bewilderment each time Jesus mentioned His death. You did not understand any of it. Its meaning was hidden from you. You did not know what He is talking about.
You followed Jesus’ directions as He sent you into the village to retrieve the colt tied up that no one had ever ridden. You walked behind Jesus as He rode the colt, as people began to spread their cloaks on the road before Him. Tears filled your eyes as the crowd begins to shout, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
You sat at the table with Jesus. The night was quiet and the meal was a welcome relief from your days on the road. You looked up from your plate as Jesus quieted the crowd. You ate the bread that is His body and drank the wine that is His blood. After that, a question tugged at your mind. Could what He says be true? Will I deny Him three times?
You abandoned Him in His hour of need. You fell asleep while He prays. You heard the crowd approaching and you saw the light of the torches. You pulled out your sword and attempted to make up for your past failure by attacking those who had come for Jesus. You sliced off an ear. You were rebuked and the ear was healed by Him who is to die.
You sat by the fire and you were torn between loyalty and safety. Someone questioned you and you denied knowing Jesus. Another one questioned you later and after that another. As you spit denial after denial, you spit in the face of Jesus.
With your hand you beat Him, with your feet you kicked Him, with your mouth you shouted, “Crucify Him.” Your hand held the whip as He was flogged. Your hand held the hammer as He was nailed to the cross. You are there when He hung on the tree, abandoned to die a sinner’s death. You saw the sky grow dark as you heard His last words. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” With that, He died.
You watched as they placed Him in the tomb and draw the sheet over His face. You sat with His followers as they wept and wondered what to do next. You went back to the tomb on Sunday. You held the spices for His body. What you saw there, however, is unexpected. The stone had been rolled away from the tomb and His body was gone. Two men robed in white stood nearby. “He is not here; he has risen!” they shouted. Could what He said be true!?
You felt your feet slap the dirt as you ran back to the disciples to tell of what you had experienced. You went with them back to the tomb to verify that Jesus was truly gone. You stood with the disciples when Jesus appears to them. You saw the holes in His hands and in His feet. You saw that He is not dead but alive! Your eyes were locked on Him as He speaks, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” You hid the words in your heart and you made them your lifelong mission.
You joined with Jesus’ followers as they worshipped him and were filled with great joy. You raised your voice along with them, praising God.
Go and do likewise this Easter Sunday. You were there. This is your Story. Be filled with great joy and raise your voice along with all of the believers for Christ is risen!