Jesus; God or Man?
If I'd been in Peter's situation, chances are that I'd have denied Jesus, too. Peter just couldn't understand what was happening. And who could blame him! If Jesus were the Son of God, Peter must have wondered, why didn't he stop the abuse and mockery he was witnessing in the high priest's courtyard? How could someone who was supposed to be divine put up with that? Maybe it's just some tragic mistake, Peter may have thought. Perhaps, after all, Jesus is another sincere but misguided charismatic leader who has overwhelmed his followers with rousing words and visions and thoughts of invincibility. And if that's the case, I'd better save my own skin while I can. "No," Peter insisted to the courtyard bystanders, "I don't know him."
Later that day, Peter watched Jesus, now brutally beaten, nailed to a cross, then jerked upright in the sun to hang, and gasp for air, and finally die. If Jesus were the Son of God, how could he die like that?
Peter was just as troubled the following Sunday when he ran to Jesus' tomb to find the body missing. The women told of angels' words that he had risen, but with his own eyes Peter had seen Jesus die. If he were a man - and he certainly died like a man - how could he return from death? Someone must have taken the body. Must have!
It's this very question men and women have struggled with for centuries. If Jesus is God, how could he die? And if he is man, how could he rise?
The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb early that Easter morning were troubled by no such thoughts. One moment they sat mesmerized by the fire flickering in the chilly predawn hours. The next they were mesmerized a light so bright it terrified them, as the tomb's stone lurched open and the radiant Jesus walked out alive!
How can God die, and how can man live? Why, for that matter, was Jesus conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin?
Because Jesus is God's Son, sent to earth to lead us back to our Father, to die for our sins, and to rise from the dead to show us that he is the source of everlasting life. He is the God-Man.
And what is that to me?
His shameful death that Good Friday was a direct result of our sins. And his resurrection Easter morning was for us, as well. He died and lived for me. For me - and for you.
Because, despite of our denial and rejection of him, no matter whether we are good or bad, no matter what we have done in the past, he continues to love us. That's what he does. And that's why Easter is such a wonderful moment of great hope for all of us. There is a way back for all of us.
This Easter, may you, too, walk out from the tomb of all that has restricted and imprisoned you, and step put into the new, fresh, bright light of the resurrection day.
With every blessing this Eastertide, Paul
© Copyright Hatfield Church / Tim Sweed 2008