I’m pretty well versed in my Christianity; meaning, I’ve been saying the same things for quite sometime. Familiarity can be an amazing gift, but it can also be a tool for dullness and loss of power. For instance, I know my husband is a hunky man. And it’s not that I forget how deeply attracted I am (to his whole self). Nonetheless, it’s a privilege to look at him with fresh eyes every so often and say “like whoa”.
Easter is here. And just like the demons knowing Jesus as God (Luke 4:40-41), merely knowing the story of Easter can sometimes be celebrated devoid of any power and awe. I am so guilty of this.
The journey to new eyes on Easter, for me, starts with the story of Lazarus in the Bible. When I typically think of this story, often I’d recall how deeply Jesus loved this family. I’d remember how Jesus wept (John 11:35) over the death of Lazarus. And I love that we have a picture here of Jesus relating to our earthly sorrow and devastation. I’m convicted, honestly, because when I look over my shoulder of the passion leading up to Christ’s crucification and death… I can tend to stay here. I picture a fully human Jesus—anxious over the cup that awaited him. I squirm at how often he was asked to defend himself and how he remained silent instead. He allowed people to spit on him and mock him. We see Jesus battered and beaten to death and we are rightfully sad. I think of how confusing it must’ve been to all those who loved him. Even knowing the outcome, I still beg him to spare himself as I read over the brutality endured—like trying to change the end of a sad movie every time you rewatch it.
If we go back to Lazarus’ story, there is a less remembered emotion that paints new strokes of understanding and color on Easter, for me. When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the other people wailing with her, A DEEP ANGER welled up within him. (John 11:33 and 38) Some translations say deeply moved. The Greek term John used was embrimaomai. The word in other instances of Greek was used to refer to horses snorting as they prepare to charge the enemy. This really changes things for me. Do you see it?
Jesus was preparing for a battle with death. Jesus is furious that death had power over us. He is angry that we suffer loss. Jesus, fully God, came before the world began. Death was not the plan for us. He knows that more than anyone. The enemy came to kill (John 10:10). Jesus was about to enter war against our oppressor. Death was the object of his wrath.
In the moments leading up to his arrest, Jesus tells his disciples to stand down basically saying at the snap of his fingers he could have 60,000 angels at his disposal. (Matthew 26:53) Now the picture of the crucifixion is always a sober one, right? A bloody Jesus with his head hung. The people (Luke 23:35), the soldiers (vs 36-37), and a criminal (vs 39) mocked him, daring him to save himself. I hate that for many years, I’ve missed seeing the extraordinary power that hung there on the cross that day. Remember he could speak and have 12 legions of angels spare him, but he didn’t. How much it grieved the Father and the Spirit to watch the weight of this battle dumped on his head. But Jesus holds out his hand, motioning his help to stand down. I’ve got this. I’m going to finish this. He snorted and charged the gates of death. And then he did—he finished it. Death defeated.
Like whoa, that restraint. Whoa, that sheer power. And whoa, what a victory indeed.
For me. For you.
What a privilege to look on the cross with fresh eyes and see not a hung head but a victorious warrior.