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John 20

Think about something you’ve celebrated in the last few days or weeks. What was the reason for the celebration? What was the experience like? How did it make you feel to be a part of it?

I’ve been blessed to be a part of numerous special celebrations in and around my life, from milestone birthdays of my children, to 20 years of marriage with my wife, celebrating my parents 50th wedding anniversary, the 75 years of Riverwood, and so many more. But with each of these celebrations, they were things I saw coming, and in different ways, was able to prepare for each of them. So it’s challenging for me to even imagine what it would have been like to embrace and celebrate some joyous occasion that I didn’t even believe was possible.

These last few days we’ve been walking through everything leading up to and then the actual death and burial of Jesus. And with death as we know it, there’s such a finality to it in this life. So to even try to comprehend what must have gone through Mary’s and the disciples and even Thomas’ minds is difficult. But every time I read this passage, imagining Mary standing there crying and then hearing Jesus say her name, knowing it’s him, the split second between disbelief and realization. It gives me chills…just as it does to consider what it was like for Jesus to come, seemingly out of nowhere, to be in the midst of the group and speak the words “Peace be with you” and before you even look up, knowing it’s Him just from the words, tone and voice, but not understanding due to knowing He wasn’t there before the door was locked.  

Take a moment to look back at the passage, focusing either on verses 11-16 and putting yourself in the place of Mary, or focusing on verses 19-28 and allowing you to be in the house among the disciples. And as you go through the passage, imagine yourself as a full participant in the event. Focus on the experience, all you see, hear and feel, and stay in the moment as long as possible. When you’re done, return here.

What was that like for you? What did you experience/feel? If others were involved, how did they respond? What made it special? How was the event celebrated?

For me, in either event, there are the tears of joy, the strong and long embraces, the laughter, the joy, the elation. The unbelief about what was being experienced, yet the inability to deny it as we talk and touch and celebrate what we never considered was even possible. I sincerely hope this is a glimpse of experiences and celebrations we’ll have in heaven, and I long for that to be the case.

What a wonderful Savior we have, who allows us to experience life in Him and life with Him. And we get to celebrate Him together as our Risen Lord. He is Emmanuel (God with us) and Jehovah Shammah (The Lord is there). He is Jehovah Jireh (God who provides) and Yahweh Nissi (God who overcomes). He is Yahweh M’kaddesh (God who sanctifies) and He is Yahweh Yeshua (God who saves)!

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