Locations & Times

Risen for Me, for Us

by Jeff Lucas on March 18, 2024

The restaurant was heaving with post-church diners. I scanned the throng, looking for Kay, who’d gone ahead to secure a table.

I’d enjoyed church. Mostly. The Easter Sunday morning service is usually my favorite, but when we got to the part where we shared the traditional resurrection greeting, a twinge surfaced in my heart. The preacher declared, “The Lord is risen!” And, on cue, our lovely congregation beamed, “He is risen indeed!” But as I joined in with the expected response, I sensed the faintest hint of a question mark, but I couldn’t think why.

I do believe that Jesus is alive, right now, despite it being entirely impossible for a man dead three days to neatly fold his own shroud and walk out into the sunlight. But with God, all things are possible. No, this was not an attack of raw doubt, but something more subtle.

At the restaurant, brushing the twinge aside like a pesky mosquito, it was then that I saw them: a crowded table of ten, waving at me, inviting me to come over. As one of the pastors at Timberline who is frequently on the platform, this often happens.

I strolled over to their table. “Hi everyone! Happy Easter! How are you?”

They nodded, smiled, said they were fine, and I launched into some fairly nondescript chatter. They joined in, politely. But after a minute or three, I sensed yet another twinge: something was amiss here. They were looking nervous. Perhaps I’d overstayed my welcome. 

And then, a more awful thought — I decided to ask, “Er…I don’t think that you know me, do you?”

One of them, a brave soul, confirmed my worst fear. “You’re right, sir. We’ve never seen you before in our lives.”

“But you waved me over when I walked in,” I protested. 

“We were waving at a chap behind you.”

My face flushed crimson. I wanted the ground to swallow me up.

“I am so very, very sorry. I’ll go away now, forever,” I mumbled, making a hasty retreat.  

They were greeting someone else. Not me.

Reflecting later, the episode helped me to identify the source of my Easter mid-service anxiety. Sometimes I worry that something similar will happen when I finally meet Jesus. He’ll smile, open His arms wide for a hug, and I rush towards Him. And the joy I feel is suddenly vaporized as He steps back, a look of consternation on His face now. “I’m sorry,” He says, His eyes sad now. “I was talking to the person behind you. Not you.”

We can develop the feeling that Jesus loves the world broadly but not necessarily us personally. Or what we believe can distill into being just cold theory, like our belief in the existence of the planet Neptune. We know that it’s out there — but its existence doesn’t make any impact on how we think and live. We’re left feeling like spectators, outsiders even, when the great truths of the faith are celebrated. 

We Christians can be gifted at counting ourselves out when it comes to blessing and counting ourselves in when judgment is sounded. If I stood up in church and announced that the Lord had revealed to me that there were some people present who brought special delight to Him because of their good choices, a lot of people would be craning their necks, wondering who merited such encouragement, but not thinking for a moment that it could be them. Conversely, if I declared that I felt that there were some who had irritated God and should ready themselves for a dose of fire and brimstone, many would rush to think that fireproof clothing would be a wise shopping choice.

But the good news of the cross and resurrection is for those who often feel like they’re on the outside looking in. A dying thief is promised paradise. Thomas, most famous for his doubting, misses the meeting of his life, but then is treated to another opportunity to encounter the risen Jesus. Peter, foot squarely in his mouth with a fireside denial, is treated to an early morning fireside breakfast. 

Christ is risen. He’s preparing a place for us. We’ll be with Him, and tears, sorrow, and death, they will have all gone away, forever. It’s for you. Me. Us.

The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed. Hallelujah.

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