Day 44: Paralysis by analysis
When something doesn’t make sense, we often analyze and re-analyze the situation. There are times we must dig and dig in order to understand. There are other times however, that all our digging is because we are rejecting what we have been told over and over again. Or we dig because while we say we “just need a little more” information, the reality is, we’re delaying decision time.
We have come to what Christians call Easter Day: Jesus’ Resurrection.
Note that in the Bible, though, John’s story is so fresh, that no one has had time to come up with those labels. Ever since that first Morning of the Empty Tomb, people have been analyzing and re-analyzing Jesus.
I worked for many years in a very technical firm. The fruit of that firm was nuclear reactor design, and support of those designs throughout their life, and support of the lives of the people who operated them.
You might say we were a bit obsessed with knowing our product worked correctly. That healthy and completely necessary obsession required that we gather data, analyze it, and make decisions.
Some days, most days, we had mountains of data. Yet we always needed more. Often we would say to ourselves, “If we just knew ‘this about that’, then we would really know.” And look, there were days that was exactly true—days we needed more data. But there were other days when we needed to simply decide.
John, Jesus’ best friend, has come to a day of decision. He must decide who Jesus really is.
The first Morning of the Empty Tomb is not a morning of theology; it is a day of decision.
That decision comes to them amid this unfolding tragedy of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.
If you have ever buried a loved one, then you know what this day is like. It is a day of being punched in the gut. It is a day of loss and love. You cannot quite get your mind around the death (never mind the violent situation of Jesus’ death). Yet while your mind spins, you are moved out of both love and practical necessity to go and deal with the preparations. So, too, in Jesus’ day.
Picture the day. All are devastated. Some are busy making preparations. Others are paralyzed by grief.
Then it happens!
That morning, Mary sees the tomb is empty. She runs to tell the others. They in turn run to the tomb, after which everyone but Mary goes home. She gets to hold him, for a moment. And then there is this evening visit. The disciples (minus Thomas) watch him appear through a door and breathe the Holy Spirit on him. Finally, Thomas, eight days later, is offered the opportunity to probe Jesus’ hands and side.
It is bit chaotic. Try putting yourself into that day.
Jesus’ followers, full of fear, sorrow, and confusion, wrestling with what they’ve experienced, come face-to-face with Jesus. He does not ask whether they believe he’s alive. And in those moments, they will not have the privilege of the whole story, the way we do today.
They all believe. They all decide Jesus is alive. He is resurrected from the dead.
John then tells us, in verses 30 & 31, the entire purpose of why he has shared all these details with us is so that we might believe. Yes there is another chapter, there is more he wants us to know, but right now he is inviting us to consider all he has told us about Jesus.
You and I actually have more “data/information” about Jesus then they did. They did not have the Holy Spirit. They did not have 2,000 more years of Jesus moving in the lives of people on our planet. (Yes, his followers have been far from perfect, but they have also done the greater works that He promised).