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A Church in the Park

April 2021

A New Beginning

John 20:2, So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!”

Most of us will remember our grade school days and recess.  I smile recalling a girl that taunted all the boys in the 4th grade.  Samantha.  Samantha was tall and slender and kind and fun and all smiles with her braces, but more than that, she was fast, blazing fast in comparison to every boy in our school.  One after another, the boys, myself included, would toe the line during recess to race her around the playground.  On your mark, get set, GO!  One by one she would dispense with us, giggling and offering another try, “see you tomorrow”.

As Easter morning dawned, Jesus’ closest friends were downtrodden and mourning the finality of His life and ministry.  Unsteadiness reigned as if time stood still.  What held incredible wonder in recent days with the resurrection of Lazarus and the Triumphal Entry now felt long in the past, blurred among Friday’s events.  Jesus’ closest friends were paralyzed in time, unsure of which direction their lives would take.

Imagine them.  Everything seemed in order and purposeful one moment, and in the span of one short week, they were lost.  Such is the journey of faithful followers of Christ.  In our lives, there are times that we are on the pathway we intend, we hope for, marching straight ahead toward our calling or goal, and absolutely nothing can force our sidestep.  Then, something, that something, well it causes us to become paralyzed in our forward progress, stalled, and stuck.    We question: What shall I do now?

We feel the anguish and confusion of Jesus’ disciples and those closest to Him when we read the accounts.  Suddenly, there seems little to do other than tend the tomb and hide out from the authorities who were still combing the city looking for them.  This is not what they thought, certainly not what they dreamed when enlisting.  In a moment, everything changed for this Unfinished group of Believers.

In Chapter 20 of John’s Gospel, we find those closest to Jesus running.  Mary Magdalene is going through the paces of caring for her dear friend as she approaches the tomb.  Suddenly, something seems awry and bothered and she sets off running.  She is Unfinished in her understanding of Jesus’ words; she runs to get the others so that they can handle the situation.  They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!

In one of the great jabs of Scripture, John reports that the “other disciple” (John) outraced Peter to the tomb.  Even in the blur of the moment John reports the race results! The disciples look inside the tomb and find the burial clothes neatly folded, separate from the strips of linen.  Jesus is orderly and purposeful while resurrecting from the dead and leaving the tomb.

John enters the tomb first; He saw and believed. But keep reading and don’t miss verse 20:9, “up until seeing, They still did not understand from the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  We see once again that these closest friends of Jesus are struggling to see it all, to understand fully, their Lord.

There are times in our lives that we must simply do the next thing, finding refuge in the fact that we cannot yet fully understand and see the way forward.  While such times can be unsteadying, we can be assured that we remain His children and He extends to us grace upon grace.  I am so thankful.

Easter morning set in motion “A New Beginning” for those unfinished friends of Jesus.  While they didn’t understand what that morning would hold, when they didn’t have clarity regarding how their lives would go, everything changed.  These faithful followers of Christ were doing their best, even without understanding, even while unfinished.  And everything changed. 

We cannot be certain of the days ahead.  But this we know, we are His children and He loves us, and because of that truth, the rest shall be okay.

Grace upon grace,

Pastor Jeff