There are many thoughts we might have about the season of Easter. Perhaps, it’s the end of 40 days of Lenten fasting. What did you give up this year? Or perhaps, it’s the vision of a stone rolled away, an empty tomb and an angel saying, “He’s not here….He has risen…”. Or maybe, perhaps, it’s a long walk down a dusty road with a stranger who finally says something you remember….and poof… He’s gone.
All interesting yet positive thoughts, right?
What if I took you down a different path of Easter memories? What about the betrayal in the garden? What about the group’s leader who denies any knowledge of the Christ, three times over? Or the brutal crucification? Need we say more?
Right or wrong….good or bad, there’s a legacy that comes from the Easter story? A legacy….you know….something that makes a mark, takes a stand, and postures itself for the future. That’s my definition.
Here’s another definition I found from a blogger’s quote:
“Legacy is about life and living. It’s about learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future.
Where do you think it’s best to plant a young tree: a clearing in an old-growth forest or an open field? Ecologists tell us that a young tree grows better when it’s planted in an area with older trees. The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the young tree are able to follow the pathways created by former trees and implant themselves more deeply. Over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an intricate, interdependent foundation hidden under the ground. In this way, stronger trees share resources with weaker ones so that the whole forest becomes healthier. That’s legacy: an interconnection across time, with a need for those who have come before us and a responsibility to those who come after us.”
Susan V. Bosak, Legacy Project
I’ve come to realize over the years that Easter is all of those things I mentioned above, but more importantly it’s the fulfillment that Christ said He was going to do. For those who followed and listened to His teachings, the Easter resurrection story is about the legacy Jesus set forth from the start of His ministry.
The deck was certainly stacked against any prospects of Jesus laying the groundwork for a legacy, however, especially during those final days. Pontius Pilate, who served loyally under the Roman Emperor, Tiberius, could find nothing gravely wrong with Jesus that merited the outcomes that would ensure. Still, the crowds yelled, “Give us Barbarous…” and “Crucify Him….”. Rome was going to make a statement at Jesus’ expense. The sign at the base of Christ’s crucification read, “Here is your king….”, a certainly mockery to the Jewish people, reminding them that any rebellion against the Empire would be struck down, and struck down in a bloody, cruel manner.
Disciples scattered. There was no legacy forming. No preaching Christ’s word.
They hid in an upper room. Locked the doors. Feared for their lives.
No learning from the past. No living in the present. And certainly, no building for the future.
But….Christ came (and comes) during the darkest hours. And when still those doubted, He showed them the physical pains and scars of His earthly disposal.
If we’ve learned nothing more from our Savior’s story, it’s the message that God has plans on a much grander scale than we can ever imagine. His plans can overcome our short-mindedness of how the story….the legacy….could and would unfold.
Last week, I was fortunate to attend a men’s prayer breakfast where the keynote speaker, Bishop Claude Alexander, energized the gathering of just under 250 men. Claude right out of the gate started his sermon by talking about the disciples. Now, as many of you know from earlier messages, I have just recently finished a study following the book, “12 Ordinary Men”, which chronicles the lives of the apostles as twelve “no-bodies” who became “somebodies”. I looked over my shoulder and smiled at one of my Friday morning fellowship brothers as Claude was sharing a story about Peter and James, two opposites in personalities, but together carried out Christ’s message.
Claude reminded the gathering that all mentions of the apostles in the Bible are made by suggesting at least two or more were working together. And you know there’s only one place in the Bible where a single apostle is mentioned alone; the story of Judas Iscariot. Left alone, this Judas neglected his beliefs, and soon betrayed Jesus. Claude reminded us that “left alone, we can all fall prey to the devil”.
So how was the legacy of Jesus carried out …. and prospered? Not alone, but in pairs, in groups, and teams of disciples. In this way, our earthly doubts of the Easter legacy, continue to connect with God’s heavenly promises.
Claude used one more example that will sit with me for a long time. Redwood trees….. you know, huge enormous 300 foot tall trees with massive trunks? You might think they have deep, deep root structures. “Not so fast”, said Bishop Claude. Instead, these massive trees have shallow roots that barely extend down below six feet in the ground. So what makes them stand tall in the weathers of life? Those same roots are interconnected with the roots of other redwood trees around them. It’s through this interconnections that the trees survive. It’s the relying on others that the trees remain strong.
This year, as you think about the Easter story, think about how the legacy of Jesus was able to be carried out despite all that could have gone wrong. Here on earth, it was the faith of a band of brothers, yes…but it continues to be the leaning on one another, the trust in our Father in Heaven, and the interconnectivity of anchored beliefs that has spread Christianity throughout the world.
The Easter story is one of our Savior sacrificing all for our sake. Remember that it’s also about the legacy carried out by the disciples rather than letting Christ’s efforts slowly die away, one by one.
My prayer this week is that we remain mindful of Christ’s teachings applied in all aspects of our lives, and that we continue to be a part of the chain of His legacy.
Have a blessed Easter.