Summary: Jesus rose from the grave. But he kept his scars. Why? His scars will tell the TRUE story of His sacrifice for us forever and ever. His scars are glorious.
Growing up (and even now), I loved stories, fairy tales, and films with happy endings that stir my soul with a mix of sorrow and joy, bringing tears to my eyes. But like you, I walk out of the theatre or a close the book, take a deep breath, and think, “life isn’t really like that. It’s only a story.”
• Beauty and the Beast (A Beast woos a beautiful girl to marry him, she resists, because he’s a beast and she’s in love with a Prince she keeps dreaming about. She even believes the beast has the prince locked up somewhere. The Beast lets her leave after she promises to return in a week. She breaks the promise. But then feels guilty and returns to find the beast dying of a broken heart. She weeps over the beast while finally saying, “I love you.” And as her tears fall upon the beast, he turns into the handsome prince she had dreamed of. True love broke the curse. They live happily ever after) “Life isn’t really like that”
• The Notebook (Spoiler Alert. Allie and Noah, a young couple, fall in love during the early 1940s. Their story is narrated from the present day by an elderly man telling the tale via reading a journal to a fellow nursing home resident w/ Alzheimer’s, which ends up being his wife. The inside of the journal reads something like, “Read this to me, and I’ll come back to you.” Allie becomes lucid one evening and recognizes Noah. She asks him if he thinks their strong and mutual romantic love for each other is strong enough to "take them away together"; he replies that he thinks their strong romance could do anything. After telling each other they love one another, Noah adds "I'll be seeing you". The next morning, a nurse comes into Allie's room, only to find Allie and Noah dead in each other's arms, passed away peacefully together during the night. To be together forever.) “Life isn’t really like that”
• Rocky II (An unknown fighter gets the chance to fight for the heavy weight championship. His pregnant wife doesn’t support him out of fear for him. She goes into premature labor and into a coma. She awakens and ultimately blesses the fight. The champ he’s fighting declares he’ll knock Rocky out in two rounds. They go 15 rounds and both fall to the mat. Upon the count of ten, in the brink of time, Rocky makes it to his feet to become the heavyweight champion of the world. And then at the end he cries out “ADRIAN, I DID IT!” And she’s saying, “I love you, I love you...” And tears are streaming.). “Life isn’t really like that”
Life isn’t really like that, we think. But our hearts YEARN for it to be. In fact, J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings, said stories that produce “piercing joy that brings tears,” are actually the whispers of another True world that Life really is like that.
How about the resurrection of Jesus? Does Easter cause for you “piercing joy that brings tears”? Or could it be that buried deep in the closet of your intellect or emotions Jesus’ resurrection is a tad fairy tale-ish? I speak to believers too. What do you intellectually and emotionally make of Jesus’ resurrection in this moment? Perhaps for some believers and unbelievers alike, you feel it would be nice if his resurrection were true, like it would be nice if a beast became human through the tears true-love, or if lovers died at the same time arm in arm, or if the underdog and love triumphed on the scale of Rocky Balboa. But even if moved at all regarding Jesus’ resurrection, perhaps you leave the church like you leave the movie theatre following the tearjerker happy ending: Taking a deep breath, shaking it off, and saying, “life just isn’t really like that... What’s for lunch?”
In Matthew 28, the women discovered the empty tomb of Jesus, and then saw Jesus Himself. They rushed back to tell the disciples. On their way to Galilee the disciples saw Jesus. But Matt. 28:17b (NLT) says, “but some of them still doubted.” Luke 24:10-11 (NLT): [The women told the disciples what had happened], but the story sounded like nonsense, so they didn’t believe it.” Why? Well just picture yourself. If it were me, I’d be choking back hope. It’s too good to be true. It’s too terrifying to believe. After all, life isn’t really like that.
Then in John 20:19-20 (NLT) we discover: That evening, on the first day of the week, the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke he held out his hands for them to see, and he showed them his side. They were filled with joy when they saw their Lord. Filled with joy? Why? Because could it be? Death to life? Sorrow to joy? Weeping to laughter? Suffering to glory? Could it be… that life is REALLY like that?