Jesus is the Lord of Life. Drink it in.

One night a few years ago we were flipping around the TV. And despite the fact that we get close to 300 channels, of course there was nothing on. Well, almost nothing.  We came across this show about an Australian nature photographer who set out to photograph the ten deadliest snakes in the world. You might remember “The Crocodile Hunter.” This wasn’t him, but he sounded a lot like him.

And he was doing everything he could to take action photos of these incredibly dangerous snakes: rattlesnake, cobra, black mamba, green mamba. He would literally hold his camera in one hand and wave his other hand in front of the snake, pulling his hand back as the snake struck. It was absolutely crazy.  And it was great television. He would explain why that particular snake was on the list, how you’d die if it even just looked at you for more than three seconds, then out went his free hand and the snake would strike and he’d just get his hand back in time. And the pictures were great: jaws open, fangs out, venom dripping from the fangs.

That’s the way it went until he brought us to this death-adder-thing snake in the desert. There he had an inspiration that was absolute genius. Instead of sticking his hand out and taunting the snake, he took a plain spray bottle filled with water and began to gently mist the snake’s face.

It was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen in my life. The mist was so fine we couldn’t actually see it on camera. All we could see was this snake looking entirely serene and peaceful, despite the fact that it had humans and their equipment right in front of it. Then, we could see little droplets forming on its face. Eventually a few of them would come together to form a drop, and the drop would roll down its face.  When the drop reached its mouth, the snake would almost imperceptibly open its mouth just enough for the drop to slip in.

If you can, imagine a reptile with inexpressible joy on its face.

Every instinct it had for fight or flight, to strike at the human hands or slither off to some hole or other hiding place was laid aside so that he could attend to his most powerful need: water. The thing that was scarcest in his environment and in his life: water. The cool mist was coming in unimaginable abundance. And all he had to do was drink it in.

That is the point of Easter morning. 

We think of all the awfulness of the last hours of Christ’s life.  The despair of our Lord hung on the cross to die. Everything has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

We think of his lifeless body alone in that dark tomb and the anguish of his friends, the sadness and despondence of his disciples. 

But then…Early on the morning of the first day of the week…

Do you know what it’s like to be dry?  What about that snake in the desert all its life, never knowing water like this…

How mentally, emotionally and spiritually dry Mary Magdalene must be as she approaches the tomb. Jesus had literally saved her life.  He had cast seven demons out of her.  Can you imagine the torment she had felt?  Can you imagine how her condition must have driven away all of her family and friends?  She endured the crushing loneliness of being that woman. Now the man who saved her had died a horrible, excruciating death right in front of her.  All the tears, all the sorrow left her completely dry.

But then…Early on the morning of the first day of the week…

How about Peter? He had failed.  He had no idea that his failure would be among the most famous failures in the history of the world, but when that cock crowed we know, we know. Roosters crow every morning – often they don’t wait until morning - but that daily sound cut him to the very core of his being. Peter.  The leader.  The rock.  The failure.

But then…Early on the morning of the first day of the week…

John likewise is totally spent – he’s the one male disciple who stayed to watch Jesus die. He was the one closest to Jesus so of course it hit him as hard as anyone except Jesus’ own mother.

But then…Early on the morning of the first day of the week…

What about you?

This story is about conversion. Sure, Mary, Peter and John had been following Jesus for some time.  They were already disciples.  They had already bought into his teaching, his interpretation of scripture, his holiness, and the way of life he showed them.

But you see, this is the real moment of conversion. Our faith is not at root about Jesus’ teaching and interpretations of scripture.  It isn’t at root about his miracles. It is this wild claim that that man was dead – absolutely dead – and God raised him up on the third day. And that is what they saw.

When they see him, everything changes, FOREVER. Not just for them, but for all the disciples and the hundreds who will encounter the risen Christ. More than 500, Peter tells us.

What about you?

Do you find the difficulties and stresses of this life hard to bear at times? Work hard, work harder.  Try hard, try harder. The pain.  The grief.  The disappointments.

We eventually face the hopelessness of knowing that literally anything everything we do or build will ultimately come to dust.  What does any of it matter, really?

But then…Early on the morning of the first day of the week…

Bring your troubles to this altar.  Bring your hopes.  Bring your sorrows. Bring your joys to this altar. Bring everything you are, everything you have, and everything you hope to be to this altar. Bring the certainties of death and taxes to this altar.

Feel the delicious news of Christ’s resurrection like dew on your face.  Soak it up.  Let it refresh and restore you.

How dry is this world?  People are lost. There is so much senseless hate and violence, so much callous indifference, so much loss of hope and loss of meaning.  But none of that has the last word.  Jesus is the Word and Jesus has the last word.

ALLELUIA CHRIST IS RISEN!!!!

Saying it is a must – but it isn’t enough.

We must conform our lives to his Word and example.  We must show the love that changes everything so that it changes everything.

ALLELUIA CHRIST IS RISEN!!!!

AMEN!