What is your favorite part of the Easter story? A friend asked me that the other day, and I really had to stop and think. The Crucifixion/Resurrection drama fills roughly fourteen chapters of the New Testament, so there’s a lot of meat. A marvelously full spectrum of pathos, passion, outrage, bewilderment, disbelief and heart-break shape a singular, pivotal moment in history.
One of the huge upsides of getting older is the ability to embrace contradictory emotions, viewpoints and even beliefs all at the same time and not lose your moral compass. To observe conflicting sides of an argument, problem or dilemma and not be reactive comes only with experience. We weigh and wait before forming our conclusions.
In the culture at large, we are currently experiencing one of the greatest awakenings to racism, classism, sexism and countless other forms of shared injustice ever universally experienced. With the tool of social media, voices that were previously silenced are now shouting. If you’re young, hip and probably black, you are deep in the gospel of ‘woke’.
I tread carefully in attempting to accurately convey what that means. According to The Urban Dictionary.com, being ‘woke’ is “someone who is thinking for themselves, who sees the ways in which racism, sexism and classism affect how we live our lives on a daily basis. It is a way of describing an informed, questioning, self-educating individual.” To be ‘woke’ is awareness of nuances; the past histories of deep pain, oppression and injustice and the empathy for other’s struggles.
Any serious Christian needs to be paying attention to the outcry, because this is a righteous cause. The problem, however, is that solutions being propounded are intrinsically flawed. You cannot regulate human nature. Cancel-Culture won’t get it done. Selfishness, fear, bigotry, hatred, chauvinism and countless other evils characterize our fallen human nature, and they can’t be pummeled, shamed, or educated out of us. Scripture states implacably that “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Only God can transform the soul. That’s why the suffering, dying and resurrection of Jesus is the only answer to all evils both social and personal.
But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians3:8-15 NLT
So, what is my favorite part of the Easter story? Jesus alone, desperate in the garden, always moves me. Standing in the shadow of the Cross as the most horrific unfolds awakens my fresh respect for true, courageous discipleship. Right now, however, under the shadow of Covid, I’m walking with the boys on the road to Emmaus, attempting to reconcile the soul-destroying events of the past twenty-four hours, or twelve months, and the strange things accompanying us.
As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
“What things?” Jesus asked. Luke 24:15-19
It’s not like Jesus didn’t know what happened, or how deeply affected all of them were. So, why does He ask the question? In that moment, Jesus exemplified the best example of ‘woke’ there is. He let them describe their trauma, outrage and unspeakable sadness in their own terms. He stood still and acknowledged their grievance, their emotion. But when they recognized the Savior, all other realities, just or unjust, were null and void.
When we see Jesus as He truly is, we will be fully ‘woke’.
The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that rules among fools. Ecclesiastes 9:17
cb Image by Bing