Impossible. I'm sure that's the word Jesus' followers could barely bring themselves to whisper the day after his crucifixion. How did this happen? He promised never to leave us, they said, though they recalled he often talked about events they didn't understand. He had predicted his death, and chastised Peter when he said, Never, Lord. This shall never happen to you. But it did.
Now it's the day after. Jesus is dead. He raised others back to life. Why couldn't he prevent his own death? Joseph, the rich man from Arimathea, had taken Jesus' body, wrapped it in a linen cloth, then placed the body in his own new tomb. It was over. Three years of extraordinary days spent with this simple carpenter by trade had changed them forever. And now he was gone...or was he?
Of course, we know the end of the story. The empty tomb discovered by Mary Magdalene and the other Mary at dawn the next day has left implications for all generations to ponder.
So often in my own life, I feel as if I'm facing "the day after." No hope, no way things could ever work out. But then there's the promise of Easter and the irrefutable evidence of an empty tomb. The one you are looking for is not here. He has risen just as he said. Unbelievable!
I think of my 17 -year old niece in a group home in the Midwest. It's the "day after" in her short life of rebellion, anger, and disappointment. And for my brother who turns 48 next month, homeless and living on the street, addicted to drugs and alcohol for many years, it certainly must seem like the "day after" for him. What hope is there for those who are hopeless?
I listened to Chip Ingram's Living on the Edge radio broadcast the other day. I scribbled notes as fast as I could, I was so moved by his discussion about hope. He used the book of Philippians as his reference, the writings of the Apostle Paul from his prison cell. Chip said, as best as I can transcribe:
Hope is the anchor of our souls, the absolute certainty that God's deliverance is certain. He will give you exactly what you need to handle your situation in a God-honoring way. He will give you sufficient courage. He will deliver you through your circumstances, out of a situation, or ultimately to himself. The answer to your problem is not a solution. The answer to your problem is a person, Jesus Christ.
I called my niece on her birthday a few weeks ago. There's hope! I told her, no matter what your circumstances look like. I'm not sure she believed me, but I pray she'll think of my words and begin to believe that maybe, just maybe there's a way through tough times. I will call her again soon to gently remind her.
My brother is now in a halfway house, his first time in a treatment program. He's court ordered to be there, but I see this as Divine intervention in his life. I sent him an Easter card and wrote, There's hope! I pray he will see a glimmer and wonder that these events might have been orchestrated by a Power greater than himself.
Yes, this is the day after. But I know the rest of the story and I rejoice. He is risen!