Mar 31, 2021 | by Max Vincent
Luke Timothy Johnson begins his book, Living Jesus, with the statement, “It makes a big difference whether someone is dead or alive.” If someone is dead, we can learn about that person, what the person did or said. If someone is alive, we can get to know the person. The best way to learn about my Puritan ancestors is to read genealogy reports and search cemetery records. The best way to know my sister Mary is to sit down and talk with her over a cup of coffee.
As Johnson points out in his book, this is so obvious; it hardly needs stating, except in our relationship with Jesus. We often treat Jesus as a well-loved ancestor, someone we read about, a life we study, perhaps someone we admire. But the message of Easter is that Jesus is much more. Jesus is alive and longs to be known by us, longs to be in relationship with us.
One of my favorite Easter stories is the disciples’ journey on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-25). As these early disciples leave Jerusalem, still mourning the loss of Jesus, Jesus joins them on their journey. They do not recognize Jesus, but as they journey and share their grief with him, Jesus helps them understand the Scriptures. On reaching their destination, Jesus appears to be headed further on, but they invite him in to share their meal. Finally, in breaking the bread, they recognize Jesus and are surprised by his presence with them.
The story opens with the grief and sorrow of the disciples about a dead Jesus. It ends with disciples who are surprised and amazed that Christ is alive and still walking among them, opening the scriptures to them and present in the breaking of the bread. I pray that throughout these great 50 days of Easter, we will be disciples who are looking for the living Jesus.