After Jesus’ death on the cross, the story of love seemed to have come to a horrific, tragic end. To His closest friends, it seemed like the end of a dream. They could not believe, in spite of everything Jesus had said, that there could be anything more to the story.
He was dead. Buried.
A Roman guard had been placed outside the tomb due to worries from the religious rulers and it had been sealed shut. But when some of his followers went to visit the tomb and finish the burial rites, they found something they did not expect to see.
The stone that had been so carefully placed at the entrance was rolled away. It was open, and there was no sign of the guards. The clothes Jesus had been buried in were folded up neatly and put aside.
And the tomb? The tomb was empty!
The story wasn’t over. It had continued in a way they could never have understood, in a way that we still struggle with today. The tomb that held God Himself burst open in the quiet of a Sunday morning, proclaiming that the promise made on the day death entered the world had come true.
He began appearing to them. On a road to Damascus. In an upper room. On a mountaintop. Over the space of several days and weeks, hundreds of His friends and followers laughed with him. They ate dinner with him. At one point He made them a feast on the seashore! And suddenly, everything He had said made sense. He was the promise, made long ago to Adam and Eve. And with His sacrifice, He had paid the price for all mankind’s choices ever since that fateful bite of forbidden fruit.
The reign of sin and death was ended. Over. The relationship between heaven and earth was restored. The Creator and His creation could once again freely laugh and cry and live together as He had always wanted. The price for our sin had been paid in a way nobody could have seen coming.
What does the story of love teach us? It’s simple: God is not stumped by an evil world. He doesn’t gasp in amazement at the dearth of our faith or the depth of our failures. We can’t surprise God with our cruelties. He knows the condition of the world—and loves it just the same.
This is the story in all its terrible beauty. He sees you and loves you in spite of everything you have ever said or thought or done. He created you to know Him and to laugh and live and love with Him. So He went to the greatest lengths possible for that to happen. He involved Himself as intimately as possible with what is wrong with this world—just so you can know Him.
It’s a story of love, told since the day of creation. The Creator made humanity for relationship with Him, to be the pinnacle of creation, made in His image. And in spite of all we have done to run from Him, He pursues us and reminds us of His great love, showing us that love in the most surprising and truly stunning ways.
For when we find a place where God would never be—like on a cross—we look again. And there He is. In the flesh.
My, what an ending.
Or better said, what a beginning!