Sunday, April 5, 2015

When God got the last laugh

Today, God got the last laugh.

The laughter began before dawn, when a dead body regained consciousness in a cold tomb.

Or perhaps it began with an earthquake, which rolled a stone away and scared guards so that they became "like dead men".

I'm not sure if Jesus strode out boldly with a swagger, or if he just peeked out from the tomb, thinking, "Where is everybody?" and then walked out.

The party in hell was over.  The party in hell had broken up with screams of horror and shouts of anger.  How dare he?  How dare he get the last laugh on us?

The first person he revealed himself to was a woman, Mary of Magdala, whom we know today as Mary Magdalene.  This was the Mary that wept because they had taken her Lord away and she didn't know where he was.

It was when he said to her, "Mary," that she knew who he was.

I wonder if, when she turned towards him, Jesus was smiling.

I wonder if he smiled when he appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus.

And I wonder if he smiled when he first appeared to the apostles who were hiding in the upper room.  We know he said, "Peace be with you!" and showed him his hands and feet.  But I wonder if the expression on his face said, "Look!  It's me!  I'm here!  Isn't that great!  I told you it was going to happen, and it did!"

This is Easter Sunday.  

Easter is a holiday associated with bunnies (chocolate and otherwise), baskets, eggs dyed in different colors, new clothes, parades, and white shoes.  It's also associated with large dinners--usually with ham as the main course--with family visits and perhaps a surprise from the Easter Bunny.  (One year, a gift from the Easter Bunny came with a note and a carrot with teeth marks in it.  I told everyone who would listen that those teeth marks were proof that there really was an Easter Bunny.  It was years before I realized that my dad had written the note and probably had bitten into that carrot as well!)

This is the holiday where people and Easter lilies will crowd churches, and many will repeat as part of a liturgy, "He is risen." "He is risen indeed."

But do we really understand that, on this day, God got the last laugh?

If man had created God in his own image, as is sometimes alleged, hope would have died at the cross.  The apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 15:12-19, says:

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." (emphasis mine, TAS)

The cross would have been proof that God was created in the image of man, for the cross meant death--physical death of a man, the death of hope, the death of dreams the death of everything. 

But God got the last laugh. 

Jesus said he would rise from the dead . . . and he did.

The witness of men, the witness of Scripture speaks--indeed, it shouts--that "Christ has indeed been risen from the dead!" as I Corinthians 15:20 says.  

When we speak today that "Christ is risen indeed," it is not merely a recitation of a liturgy that has been passed down for two thousand years.  Instead, it is a testament to a God that got the last laugh--over Satan, over sin, over death.

I wonder, if when the disciples saw Jesus, he looked like this, as painted by artist Jack Jewell:

This is the day when God got the last laugh.

He is risen.

He is risen indeed!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

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