Everything was supposed to turn out great! Kathi and I were married for five years when we decided to have kids. First came Josh, our beautiful little bundle of joy. He was a feisty little fart whose smile was captivating. Then came Sara. She practically jumped out of the doctors hands and has been on the go ever since. Eighteen months later Katie was born. She had a smile that captured my heart.
Every night before bed I would rock them individually before lying them down to sleep. During these precious moments I would pray for them and dream about what life would be like. What would they look like as a teenager? As an adult? What would they do for a career? Would they serve God or run from Him? Would they become teachers, go into business, who would they hang out with? I loved dreaming of the future that they would eventually walk into. They had a bright future ahead of them.
Josh had been perpetually sick for six months when I brought him to the doctor at the tender age of three and a half. He kept getting diagnosed with weird viruses that never really seemed to go away. Then things got even worse. He developed bruises up and down his body and his knees were swelling by the hour. Kathi and I were worried so we took him in as soon as we could get an appointment. The doctor poked and prodded then took a blood test. A half hour later she came back in the room and had a very concerned look on her face as she told me that she still didn’t know for sure what he was sick from but she was calling Children’s hospital. When I left her office, I knew something had gone terribly wrong. Twenty four hours later our fears became a reality when the doctors at Children’s hospital informed us that Josh had leukemia. My hopes and dreams fell apart in one phone call, one turn of events. Everything was supposed to work out great and instead everything had gone terribly wrong.
I wonder if the disciples had that same feeling when the soldiers came and took Jesus away. I wonder if they had the look of fear in their eyes. I wonder if they experienced pain and bewilderment when their teacher was led away like a criminal. I wonder how they felt when everything went wrong, terribly and horribly wrong.
A week earlier they had marched into Jerusalem walking next to Jesus who was riding on the back of a colt. Their heads were held high as they paraded past the people who came out by the thousands to support him. These men had left their families, they careers, they friends, and everything else to follow Jesus. He was a master teacher and had chosen them to learn from him. They had seen him turn water into wine, cure the sick, and give sight to the blind. But now everything had changed. Everything was different. Everything had fallen apart.
Jesus was an innocent man yet he was sentenced to die the most horrible of deaths under the most terrible circumstances. Many of the disciples watched the Roman guards beat their teacher and friend to the point that he was no longer recognizable. Then they dragged him through the streets to the place where he would be crucified, the same place that already smelled of death from all the animals that had been sacrificed and discarded by the Jews. Jesus was to be the last sacrifice, the atoning sacrifice for all the sins of the world. Jesus was hung on a simple cross, an instrument of Roman torture, and six hours later gave his last breath. Everything had gone wrong, terribly wrong. It wasn’t supposed to end like this! When Jesus died so did the hopes and dreams of his disciples. Their future was hanging limp on a cross reserved for sinners. But they didn’t know about Easter yet. There was more to the story.
“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn't here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.” Matthew 28:1-6 NLT
Although Jesus died a horrible death on the cross he didn’t stay dead. God had a plan. Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected according to God’s marvelous plan. He wanted to prove once and for all that he has power over life and death. Do you believe in the hope of Easter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead? Do you believe that the tomb was empty and that hope had been restored?
The day Josh was diagnosed with Leukemia he began his treatments. If we wouldn’t have begun treatments he would have died within days. The first two months were the worst. We had very little hope and both wished that we could take our sons place. We couldn’t run from the pain or make it go away. The pain was real and persistent. After three of the darkest personal years I have ever faced, Josh went in for his final chemo treatment on June 9th of 2005. Today he is nineteen years old and attending a local college preparing to become a pastor.
Easter Faith can only be ignited by the memory of Good Friday. The thrill of victory originated in the agony of defeat. Hope rose from the dead. Jesus is the ultimate underdog who won the impossible and defeated the inevitable. The Easter story is meaningless without the memory of Good Friday. If you cannot find hope in an empty tomb and the resurrected savior who is pointing to eternal life, then where will you find hope? This Easter, find your hope in Jesus.