Something Mitch and I did early in our marriage as a sort of Easter “tradition” was attending a “passion play.” This was something I did as a child and I always loved it. While we lived in NY it was something we wanted to do, but there weren’t any churches in our area that produced one. This year we traveled down to my parents (who live around 3 hours south) and went to a production called “The Promise” with them. It. Was. Phenomenal! The music, the dancing, the story... all of it. Undoubtedly the best-produced passion play I’ve ever attended.
And yes, we took our 3.5 year old son along with us. I wasn’t sure what his response would be throughout the program, as I had not seen it before, but I knew, over all, he would enjoy it. It was a story he knew well, and he loves music and dancing. He knew every detail of the story that was being portrayed before him. He anticipated everything. When Jesus entered Jerusalem he looked at me confused and asked, “ummm why is he not riding a donkey?” Haha. I wondered the same thing. But regardless, they did a fantastic job.
There were points in the story where I could sense that Emmanuel was anticipating what was coming. Every time the music got intense or characters raised their voices, he would want to hide. He’d start shaking and I could feel his little heart pounding as I held him. As the time of Jesus’ arrest drew nearer, I was seeing his little face begin to contort in fear and sadness. He started asking in a shaky voice “They aren’t gonna hurt Jesus, mommy? They aren’t gonna take Jesus... they wont hurt Jesus? Will they, mommy?”
As the soldiers came toward Jesus Manny began to cry and plead with me to assure him they wouldn’t take Jesus or hurt him. I was so afraid for him. So nervous for him. Here he was, knowing what was to come, but willing it away. “Well, sweetie, yes... they will take him. But remember, Jesus is alive. He rises again. It’s ok.”
I think we often say “I love Jesus” almost flippantly, without really considering what it means. It really was eye-opening to see my little son’s emotions as he watched Jesus be attacked verbally and physically. He hated it, not because he hates violence... but because he loves Jesus.
Some might disagree that a 3-year old could truly love Jesus and understand what that means. Does he have a full understanding of love? I don’t know. But I do know that he was seeing this character, this man, this Jesus, whom he loved and admired, enduring the abuse of men... and it crushed him. Emmanuel loves stories about Jesus... Jesus is the “favorite character” in every story. And Jesus was being yelled at and hurt by “the bad guys.” And he was broken.
When I reflect on Jesus facing death... conquering death, for my sake... it breaks my heart. Because I am grieved by my sin that killed him. I am saddened by my sin that crushed him.
And I love Jesus.
But seeing my son’s sadness, not because he realizes that his sin took Jesus to the cross, but simply because he loves the “man” of Jesus, opened my eyes in a new way. Do I know that Jesus never sinned, but died for the sins of many? Yes. But sometimes I feel like I think about it for the first time. And seeing my son’s greif and his child-like love for Jesus... I felt like I saw it again with fresh eyes.
That is why I love Resurrection Sunday. I feel like everyone comes to Sunday Morning Worship with fresh eyes. Their ears are open. Their hearts are open. They come and go with a fresh love for Jesus in their hearts. We should reflect on Jesus’ resurrection every day of the year.
Without the cross, there is no resurrection. But without the resurrection, there is no salvation.
Today, and everyday, I am grateful for the abundant grace I have been given. Not because I deserve it, I don’t... and that isn’t a hard concept to grasp. I know I don’t deserve it... I believe I don’t deserve it. What is hard to grasp, is that there is enough grace for even me.
His grace is enough. That is a fact... not a feeling.
It’s easier for me to live with shame and regret than to walk in the freedom that Jesus secured with his death and resurrection. My prayer is that I learn more to walk in freedom. That I grow in the grace I’ve been given. That I hold fast to the truth that it is by grace I have been saved, through faith... and this is NOT from myself... it is the GIFT of God. I can’t earn it. But it is mine.
God chose me. Jesus justified me. The Spirit keeps me. All I do... is receive...
Happy Resurrection Day.