We all know who Jesus is, right? The Messiah. Our Savior. God’s Son. King of Kings. But what happens when we pass through something that doesn’t have room for the God we thought we knew? We experience something that is so beyond the scope of how we thought God worked that we suddenly realize, “Maybe I don’t know God like I thought I did.” How can we know him when all our previous attempts got us to a place that, when it came down to it, wasn’t enough?
A few blessed men and women had a unique way to know God: those who lived with Jesus during his earthly life. How did they know Jesus? They loved him. Maybe they didn’t even know exactly why they loved him. They certainly didn’t understand everything he said or did. But there was a way about him, I imagine, that made them know suddenly that there was a beautiful “right” out there, that it was possible to truly belong. If I had been a disciple, I imagine my favorite times would not have been the feeding of the multitudes or the calming of the storm, but the talks to pass the time while on the road from one place to another. I suspect that when Jesus was near, broken things inside those followers and friends began to shift toward wholeness. And I can imagine their confusion and concern when he would talk about death and blood, when he would go off by himself for hours to pray and they would hear his groans and sobs. There was no room in their knowledge of Jesus for something that would make Him act like that.
But what was it like in that eerie predawn waiting for Pilate’s sentence? Surely, Peter must have thought, I will hear news that he has miraculously escaped. Crucify? Even then they must have believed that angels would descend to protect him. Maybe it was the moment they saw his face dripping with blood and his back revealing all that flesh where skin should have been. Maybe it was the moment they heard his cry of human suffering as the nails secured him to the tree of death. Maybe it was the moment they heard his divine suffering as he cried out in deprivation of his father’s presence. At some point during that horrible day, their experience far surpassed the Jesus, the God they thought they knew.
Yet God kept them. Somehow they survived those three excruciatingly disorienting days. Then the unbelievable news, “The tomb is empty!” Then meeting him face to face again. Sitting, roasting fish on a cold morning, being restored, being in his presence again, they must have realized: It’s still Him. It’s still the one I love, the one who loves me.
Just to be with the God who loves me- that’s the only answer that satisfies... But this whole thing is going to look a lot different than I thought.
Rom 8:38-39 NIV
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Psalm 66:8-12 ESV
Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet your have brought us out to a place of abundance.
Revelation 21:3 ESV
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."