Daily Reflection 4/20/2020
Hulitt Gloer

Yesterday was the second Sunday of Eastertide – the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension.  As the 40 days of Lent are a time of preparation for the crucifixion and resurrection, so the 40 days after Easter are meant as a time to celebrate the resurrection and begin to come to grips with what it means for our lives. Each year in this season, we are called to consider the personal and corporate implications of Jesus’ resurrection.  Considering the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearances is a good place to begin.  

Have you ever noticed the random nature of those resurrection appearances? Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene in the garden (John 29:11-18), to the confused and frightened disciples in the Upper Room on the night of his resurrection (John 20:19-23), then again in the Upper Room the next Sunday (John 20:24-29), on the shore of the Sea Galilee cooking breakfast for a group of disciples (John 21), and then to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). He’s here one minute, there the next. They never knew when or where they might meet him next. After a while, I suspect that whenever they entered a room, they would scan the room to see if Jesus might be there. When they walked down the street, I suspect they looked over their shoulders to see if Jesus might be following them and when they came to a corner, they looked left and right to see if Jesus might be there. They just never knew when and where they might meet him, and perhaps, that was the point. During these 40 days, Jesus was teaching them that he would always be there. Physical eyes are no longer necessary because seen or unseen he is always with us whenever and wherever we may be. He is Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23) and will be with us “until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

What does this mean practically? When I was a college student and serving as Youth Minister in a local church, I had an experience that has always helped me understand the practical implications of Jesus’ resurrection. We had gathered for what was our monthly business meeting. After all the old business and the new business was completed, our pastor did what he always did at the end of such a meeting. He asked if anyone had anything else that needed our attention. On most occasions, no one said anything other than a motion to adjourn. On this night, however, a member stood up and announced that the congregation needed to be made aware of something related to the behavior of our pastor. There was a stunned silence. The atmosphere was thick enough to cut with a knife. Our pastor asked the member to proceed.

“Pastor, I think I need to make the congregation aware of the fact that I saw you go into a certain movie theater where (I can’t remember the name of the movie) was playing and I just want to ask you one question.”

Pastor: “All right. Ask your question.”

Member: “What would you have done if Jesus had come back and found you in that theater?”

Without hesitation, our pastor responded with these words, “I would never have entered that theater if I could not have taken my Lord with me.”

This story illustrates for me two approaches to living the Christian life. 

Approach #1: (as represented by the church member)– Jesus is not involved in our everyday affairs. He is somewhere else and all we need worry about is where we are and what we’re doing when he comes back. In other words, whenever that may be, don’t get caught with your proverbial “pants down”.

Approach #2: (as represented by the pastor) – Jesus is with us in the present. He is with us in everything we do and everywhere we go. “He walks with us and talks with us all along life’s way”.

One of my favorite authors, Fredrick Buechner, says, “Generally speaking, if you want to know who you really are, as distinct from who you like to think you are, keep an eye on where your feet take you” (Wishful Thinking, 27).

If in his seemingly haphazard resurrection appearances, Jesus was trying to teach us that he is with us everywhere we go, we had better go where we can take him with us. Then again, if we are following him, that shouldn’t be a problem.

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