Monday night was perhaps one of the most sacred, holy moments I’ve experienced in a while. In the midst of Holy Week and preparing for Easter services, my heart has been aching to push the pause button on life. I caught myself being so consumed with “making Easter happen,” that I forgot I need Easter to happen. I need grace, I need redemption, I need Jesus. And He doesn’t need me to make Easter happen; He made it happen for me.
My small group meets on Mondays and is a melting pot of twenty somethings pursuing becoming who God made us to be—some in internship programs, some in college programs, and some in established careers. We’re a handful of women all in ministry, all involved in a plethora of Easter services taking place this weekend. And I knew our schedules were crazy, our minds moving 100 miles an hour, and none of us really had time to pause or to even have our small group this week. Fighting the urge to cancel, I texted everyone, reminding them we had group that night and prayed because I didn’t know what would happen a few hours later, but I knew whatever happened, it would be historic in my heart.
When everyone arrived, we dove into a few questions starting with “what is the most precious thing to you about Jesus?” From there we journeyed through the crucifixion and the events that led Jesus to the cross. We talked about how all weekend we led others to remember the cross, Jesus’ sacrifice, and to leave those things we need to trust Him with there at the foot of the cross; and yet in the midst of leading others, we didn’t lead ourselves to do the same. So we stopped. We grabbed dixie cups of cranberry juice and broke bread. We journaled, we sang, we cried. We took communion together. And then we prayed. We prayed deeply for those invited to an Easter service and we prayed intimately for our own hearts to experience the magnitude of the resurrection as well. As soon as the word “amen” was uttered, we all looked at each other with tear-stained cheeks at a loss for words. I remember sitting there for a few treasured moments looking into the eyes of the women around me, realizing we were all experiencing the same thing: we had paused, we had experienced the resurrection.
Jesus’ sacrifice isn’t just something for me to tell others about this week; it’s something for me to celebrate and participate in too. It’s not something I can make happen by checking items off my to do list for a service; Easter is something that happened for me. Jesus didn’t just come to rescue those I invited to a service this weekend; He came to rescue me too.
I love what Jesus shares with His disciples early in Holy Week, before the brutal events leading up to the crucifixion:
“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. . . take heart! I’ve conquered the world!” John 17:32-33, MSG
When Jesus shared these words, His disciples were confused, not knowing what He was referring to—not knowing He was referring to His death and resurrection. Do you know what I love about these words? As Jesus was walking into horrendous torture, He took every step with love. He loved His disciples so much that He took the time to equip and arm them with strength for the days ahead. He knew they were stepping into unshaky territory when peace would be the last thing on their minds. And in the midst of the chaos, He wanted them—and He wants us—to live unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.
Jesus had to go through Friday in order to get to Sunday. He had to be nailed to the cross in order to emerge from the tomb. The resurrection doesn’t happen without the crucifixion. As I’ve journeyed through this week, I’ve realized that in my own life, death too must come before fresh life can spring forth. I need to embrace and be willing to journey through the tough stuff in order to experience new life. I need to walk through Friday in order to celebrate the magnitude of Sunday.
I’m so very thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice and I’m so very thankful for His resurrection. He had to go through the pain of the cross in order to bring us to life. And for that, I’m forever grateful. It’s in His resurrection that no matter what is happening around me I can live unshakable and assured, deeply at peace because He has conquered the world. And that’s something to celebrate.