To Rise Up

Jesus is Risen! Alleluia!

For Lent this year I tried to spend time every day reading through the Gospels with my Word on Fire Bible. This Bible is gorgeous and full of so much goodness. I really appreciate how Bishop Barron and his team incorporated reflections, explanations, word study, art, even poetry, to accompany the Gospel text. I enjoyed slowing down and taking my time to read everything on each page.

While the takeaways were many and I hope to write about more of them, for this Easter Day one thing in particular stayed with me. Early in Matthew’s Gospel he describes his calling to follow Jesus. Matthew was sitting at his collections table, most likely surrounded by others. Jesus singles Matthew out of the crowd and simply says, “Follow me.”

Matthew says he, “rose up and followed him.” End scene. There isn’t much in these few words. However, there is so much when you know ancient languages! I do not so I, like so many of us, rely on others to illuminate what is hidden in our English translation. When Matthew says he “rose up” or in some translations, “got up,” the specific verb he uses is anastas. Not so coincidentally, when we fast forward to Jesus’ Resurrection, the same root word (this time anastasis) is used by Gospel writers to describe the phenomenon.

Jesus, as we know, rose up transformed. His disciples did not always immediately recognize Him. He could walk through walls and locked doors. He was Jesus, yet He was fundamentally changed, something new that had never before been in the world. Looking back over his life, Matthew recognized that his own call by the Lord marked something significant. He had been changed to the core in that moment, a complete transformation from one man to a new man. A resurrection with a little “r” that points toward Jesus’ redemptive Resurrection which transformed the world.

How much of the Bible do we miss in these little word nuances? I am so thankful for the Bible editors and translators who take the time to shed light on the text for those of us unable to access the original languages.

As you celebrate Easter today and throughout the next week, perhaps take some time to look back on your own life. Have you had a moment where you “rose up” to follow Jesus? How has your life changed because He has called you? And make no mistake, He has, He is, and He will always be calling you to further transformational relationship with Him.

Happy Easter – Moments of Resurrection

Happy Easter! Alleluia, rejoice! Jesus is Risen!

It has been so sweet, hearing John reciting the Easter story, trying to wrap his 3 and a half year old brain around mysteries that the wisest believers struggle to comprehend – Jesus died on the cross and rose, out of love for a broken humanity, so that we could once again live forever with God is perfect happiness and love. We have been talking about it all week and have spent a lot of time at church as well. My awareness has been raised because of all the talk. John will randomly come up to me, eyes wide and serious, “Mommy, Jesus died on the cross and there were dark clouds.” or “Mommy, Jesus isn’t dead anymore. He’s alive and we get to go to heaven!” It’s incredible, this little child professing such deep theological truths. Even though he doesn’t really know what he is saying, really, when I think about it, neither do I.

Resurrection morning by JRC Martin
Resurrection morning by JRC Martin

I don’t really understand what this all means. Jesus died. He was dead. That, for any human, is a final event. There aren’t any outs, substitutions or alternatives. But Jesus isn’t just any human, as we all know. Jesus was also totally, completely and definitively God. How you may ask? Yes, another mystery. So in case you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s a whole lot of mystery going on when it comes to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

But he rose. We know he rose. There wouldn’t be any Christianity if Jesus didn’t rise. If Jesus just died, then he would be remembered as a holy man, a wise sage, an inspiring preacher. But certainly not someone worth dying brutal deaths for – certainly not God. Jesus, a dead man, rose from the dead. He conquered death, the ultimate reality of our existence. It’s beyond understanding.

Our God is so good. He understands that these mysteries are quite beyond any of our comprehension. In His wisdom and in our forefather’s attention to the workings of the Holy Spirit, we are able to realize that the Resurrection of Jesus does not need to be a purely historical event.

Everyday, we experience moments of resurrection. Some moments are huge, like when just the other day, Ben returned home from a deployment. The joy and the love that our family experienced at his homecoming was the fulfillment of all the moments of crucifixion (pain, sorrow, struggle, etc.) that we experienced when he was away. As a family, we experienced rebirth in our reunion.

Moments of resurrection don’t need to be big. We have been talking with John about how he is a big brother and big brothers help to take care of their siblings. Just yesterday, I asked John to get his milk out of the refrigerator for dinner. He did and got Rosie her’s as well. He brought it to the table and told her, “Don’t worry Rosie, I got your milk for dinner.” It was a beautiful moment – a moment of resurrection. One of love, selflessness and responsibility. For me, as a mom, this was fantastic, a moment of resurrection! I was so proud of John and his awareness of not only his sister’s needs, but mine as well.

Moments of resurrection can and do happen every day. We experience them, or miss them, depending on how we choose to perceive them.

Happy Easter