“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16:6-7
But go and tell his disciples and Peter… This is an often-overlooked verse and part of the resurrection story, but it is one of the most important. Just a few days before, Peter denied Jesus three times. He was asked if he was with Jesus or if he knew Jesus, and Peter, the one who would eventually become the chief of the Apostles, denied Jesus. But, after the resurrection, Jesus forgives Peter and wants to that point truly clear.
Forgiveness is the point of all that Jesus has done and continues to do.
It seems that at times we forget that forgiveness is what it is all about. Our relationship with God had been broken, and that relationship has been repaired. The stone of our hearts has been rolled away, just as that stone was rolled away from the tomb of Jesus. We need to empty our hearts from all that keeps us from fellowship with Jesus and with each other.
This past week, we walked with Jesus as he approached his death. We witnessed Jesus coming in triumph into Jerusalem and the cheering crowd. We were with Jesus as he washed the feet of those who had been with him from the very start. We were with him when he gave himself to us in the Eucharist and told us to “do this” in remembrance.
We were with him in the garden, his most human moment when he pleaded with his father in heaven to provide another way. And we witnessed the example he left for us in his words of “not my will by your will be done.”
We were with him when the tone of the week changed, and one of his own betrayed him and handed him over to those who would kill him. We were there with him through all of it, including the moment when he died.
And all this Jesus did willingly not for his own sake but for ours. Jesus endured all this not as a sacrifice but as an expression of love and as a reminder of God’s love for us and that we are to love each other.
Easter is a reminder of what love can do. Easter reminds us the love requires us to empty ourselves and make room for others. Easter is a reminder, not of what we have done for that is whipped away for all time, but Easter reminds us of our potential and what we can do.
Jesus turned the order of this around. Jesus reminded us that he is the fulfillment of all the law and all the prophets, and Jesus left us a new commandment, we are to love God and love each other. We are no longer just to live for ourselves, but we are, to the extent we are able to live for others. The sacrifice that we are now to make is the sacrifice of love.
But our journey is not over; it is only just beginning. Our task is to take that love that Jesus taught us out into the world and to make it a better place not for some but for all. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “take this all of you…” All of you, not just some of you. Take this love, all of you, this love of God, and know that you are forgiven.