Easter=Taking the Next Step

Easter=Taking the Next Step

April 12, 2024 by Gregg DeMey

For many Americans, Easter is simply a nice holiday. Easter coincides with the coming of spring in our country and is beautifully adorned with pastels and lilies. There are plenty of jelly beans, chocolates, and floppy-eared bunnies to go around. Who could argue with any of that?!

Hand up! I can!

I’m not so curmudgeonly as to actually want to obliterate all the happy trappings of American Easter, but I do feel like we can easily miss the Reality-of-the-Resurrection amidst all the holiday paraphernalia. Easter is far more than a day, it’s a new reality. It’s not a quaint religious holiday meant to inspire Hallmark feelings for a moment or two, it’s a radical new reality that demands a response and bold steps forward.

In John chapter 20, the resurrected Jesus powerfully demonstrates this through his first engagements with two different followers: Mary Magdalene and Thomas. Paradoxically, Jesus helps them each take the next step forward in their relationship with him by giving them exactly the opposite directions. Consider this – In John 20:17, Jesus says to a newly hopeful Mary Magdalene, “Don’t touch me, do not cling to me. Then just a few verses later in John 20:27, Jesus says to still suspicious Thomas, “Touch me! See my hands, put your fingers here. See my side, put your hands there.” What gives? Why would Jesus give such conflicting, inconsistent bits of direction to two people who loved him dearly?

It turns out that Jesus knows exactly what each one of us needs in order to take the next step in following him. And he is eager to help each of us do exactly that.

Of all his disciples, Thomas had perfectly expressed the rational response to news of the resurrection, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Jesus didn’t chastise him for his skepticism or for having a good rational brain, he met in the midst of his doubts and helped Thomas take the next step forward in faith. Turns out that Thomas would be willing to go to the ends of the earth (India, specifically) in obedience to Jesus.

Mary Magdalene had a different story and received a very different word from Jesus. Mary had been severely troubled, “possessed by seven demons” (Mark 16:9) before she had been healed by Jesus. On Easter morning, when she realized through tears - bitter tears instantly transformed into tears of joy - that Jesus was alive, she grabbed onto Jesus. I imagine this was the kind of embrace that said, “Now that this happened, never leave us again! You’ll never leave us again, right?” Jesus, even in this tender moment, helps his followers move forward. The news of his life must be shared, and he gives Mary the honor of being the first to share the news with the world. Even better than savoring the emotion of the moment.

Jesus knows us each one by one, knows what we need to take the next step forward with thim. This Sunday, we’ll continue to explore Jesus’ Easter words and deeds as we dive deep into the account of Jesus walking the road to Emmaus from Luke 24 as we strive to listen and walk with him.

– Pastor Gregg

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