In this week before Easter, traditionally titled "Holy Week," many of us will journey through Jesus' final steps on this planet, retracing his sacrifice for us. His donkey-ride into Jerusalem when he was hailed King of the Jews. A final, farewell supper in the Upper Room. A bent bowing in the Garden of Gethsemane. And then ... a skirmished kiss, an expected arrest and appearances before various authorities until a sentence -- of scourging and death -- was carried out.
We will stand in the angry crowd. Will we recognize his true identity?
We will walk beside his beaten body as he struggles under the weight of the cross. Will we see the pain he endured for us?
We will kneel before him as he suffers in crucifixion. Will we grasp the separation he endured that we might never be forsaken?
We will grieve outside the stone-sealed grave. Will we believe he will rise again?
At the conclusion of our remembrance, standing in celebration next Sunday morning, we will sing of his real -- and our ultimate -- resurrection from this life to the next. Sunday, and in the days and weeks that follow, will we see our risen Lord as he continues walking among us?
Or will we, like so many in the New Testament account, miss the risen Jesus?
In the garden: Grief, disorientation and fear closed the eyes of Mary Magdalene who took the risen Jesus to be a gardener. (John 20:1)
On the road: Grief and incomplete theology closed the eyes of two followers who concluded he was but a fellow traveler taking up conversation to pass the journey. (Luke 24:15)
In the Upper Room: Doubt, fear and nonsensical thinking closed the eyes of the disciples who concluded Jesus was a ghost. (Luke 24:37)
On the beach: Distance and dismay blinded the disciples to the presence of their Lord. (John 21: 4)
In each situation, followers of Jesus were blinded by unexpectedness. They saw him dying and decided he was dead and would stay dead. When he appeared, in a garden, on the road, in the Upper Room, on the beach, they didn't expect him to be where he was. So they missed him.
In each post-resurrection circumstance, in God's sovereign timing, eyes were opened and Jesus was revealed (Luke 24:31). And while admittedly, we can only "see" God when he enlightens the eyes of our souls to see him, when God makes a surprise appearance in our everyday, don't we often miss him too?
As we undertake our Easter journey, both this week and next and in the seasons that follow, can we cooperate with God in his eye-opening work? Can we watch for him to reveal what he wants to reveal to us when he wants to reveal it?
Let's not miss Jesus ...
Watch. Jesus is risen! Here he comes!
"... their eyes were opened and they recognized him ..." (Luke 24:31)
Suggested resource: The Prayer Coin by Elisa Morgan