by Jacob Burson
I know that Easter for us is celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. His bearing of our sins, past, present, and future, his torture, and his ultimate defeat of death. The empty tomb, “he is risen, he is risen indeed,” the pastel colors, the eggs, the plastic grass, the bunnies (those last 4 don’t make any sense, but Target has them, so we must have them).
All the celebration that comes with Easter and every year at the top of my mind is thinking about Jesus’ disciples and the people who were close to him watching him be beaten to death and seeing his lifeless body be put in the tomb. To think about what all they had seen him do, the miracles, the lessons, the teaching, the kingdom that he had brought to Earth and then, it’s over. For 3 days, they are reminiscing and surely can’t believe what’s happened.
Then, after all of that grief, He’s back and they remember that he said he’d do this. 11 of the 12 disciples died awful deaths. Most died not being able to recant their claim that Jesus was who he said he was and they were killed for it. You don’t die like that for a ghost. You only die like that if you have seen what they all saw which was Jesus dead and then Jesus alive. Jesus’ brother, James was thrown from the peak of a temple for not recanting that Jesus is the Messiah. James doesn’t die from the fall and while he’s in pain on the ground, he still cannot bring himself to recant and they beat him to death with a club.
Look, James held out for a long time in believing Jesus was the Messiah and why wouldn’t he? He was his big brother. Can you imagine hearing that your whole life, how great your baby brother’s birth was, how smart he is, how he never did anything wrong? James wasn’t having it, he was skeptical for most of Jesus’ life (John 7:5) and said that Jesus was crazy (Mark 3:21). So what turns an understandably skeptic big brother into a believer who’s willing to die horribly for not being able to recant that his little brother is the Messiah?
The resurrection and ascension.
Watching him die, then seeing him alive for 40 days, then ascend into heaven. If anything will make a skeptical big brother a believer and worshipper (Acts 1:14) it’s those things.
The Resurrection makes me think about the grief of the disciples and Jesus’ followers of the day seeing him die, their joy seeing him alive, and how this jolt in human history proves that there is room for skeptics at the table to experience Jesus through believers, scripture, and decades of our prayers that will simultaneously turn us and them into ride or die followers of Christ…together.
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” – James 1:1
The road James walked to get to the point to be able to write those words, that’s the whole thing. Thank God there’s that road for us to.