I have been reading a lot of Scripture lately. I read through Luke this week, and couldn't help crying at the end of the book. Jesus lived with us here on earth, as a human. He ate what we ate, slept as we slept, talked with us, laughed with us, cried with us, and died with us. I am struck by the relationship he had with his twelve disciples- they spent so much time together! People gave up their lives to be in relationship with this man, long before they knew he was God's son. There was so much trust and love between these thirteen men. Jesus gave them so much of his life throughout their time together. One day everything went terribly wrong, and Jesus allowed himself to be given to those who had praised him just a week earlier. I can't imagine being one of the twelve, helplessly watching my best friend be humiliated, ripped apart, and left hanging on a cross while the weight of his body dragged the nails through his flesh.
I can't imagine this happening to Katrina Elyse, and this is the closest I have come to a best friend as the twelve (thirteen, really) were to each other. She is my soul sister. Thank God for Katrina Elyse! The other night when we were falling asleep, I made up a game: let's see how close we can come to sounding like real wild animals. I started with a jaguar, and couldn't get close. Soon enough, both Katrina Elyse and I were laughing ourselves to tears trying to make jaguar sounds (trust me, we didn't come close). The night before, she watched and participated in my game of "let's put this flashlight on my leg and see all the veins glow in the dark." It was a blast. Another night I decided to sing "He's got the whole world in his hands" in as many languages as I could think of, and Katrina Elyse was kind enough to join in. I think our favorite was German and Hindi. We are such silly gooses. But the thing is this: we trust each other with everything. I can make a total fool of myself with Katrina Elyse, and know that she'll just laugh with me and love me the same. I can tell her my deepest fears, my worst sins, the quirky things that I love in life, and I trust that she will love me the same. I trust her with my very life.
This is how I imagine the thirteen men being with each other. I wonder if they ever had competitions at night to see who could sound more like a Jaguar. My guess is that Peter would have gone all out for these games, and I'm sure they would have laughed a lot. I think they trusted each other in this deep way- they trusted each other with their lives. I can't imagine the sorrow they must have felt- the hopelessness and complete broken heartedness of their situation when their best friend was completely unjustly murdered.
BUT the best part is yet to come! You get to the end of Luke, and Jesus is risen! At first, they haven't seen his body and I am sure they are just baffled as to what might have happened to it. Two of his followers were walking to Emmaus on the day of his resurrection and discussing the news that Mary, Joana, and Martha had told them earlier that day, when he appeared to them: "As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him." Can you imagine the excitement in Jesus' belly?! Just knowing that they couldn't recognize him, but that he was finally able to talk to his best friends again- after the most horrible of experiences (being separated from his father). He's back and NOW things are different! He can look at his best friends and know that they now have the hope to know his father the way that he does. Can you imagine how excited he must have been?! He says "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"—haha, like he doesn't know! I can just feel his excitement in anticipation of the moment that they recognize him! They looked downcast, and said, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened here in these days?" Now get this: Jesus responds with, "What things?" HA!! Oh man, I just get so excited thinking about it! Can you imagine it!? Jesus knows what's happened, and he's looking for the response of his best friends. I imagine that he was SUPER excited for the moment when they recognize him. They tell him what happened, and about the women's story of the angels at Jesus' tomb. Jesus then tells them that they are slow of heart, and explains everything from Moses through the prophets and scriptures concerning himself and why he had to suffer (all the while referring to himself as "the Christ" in order to keep his disguise).
After walking for a long time, it started to get dark and so they asked him to stay with them that evening, and they broke bread that night. Here's another big moment! Before he was arrested Jesus ate his last supper with his best friends- and he knew that it would be his last: "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." Guess what?! Here he is, sitting down with his friends, breaking bread with them! The Kingdom of God is here!!! He has suffered, and paid the ultimate price so that we can know his father, and now Jesus is sitting with his best friends just waiting for them to recognize him. Can you imagine the joy in his heart! His last meal with them was tainted with a sadness- he knew what was to come after. The anticipation for the next supper together must have been awesome! "When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'" Oh my gosh! Can you imagine their faces! Their excitement!? Jesus' excitement at finally being able to be with his best friends again, and knowing that they can know his father?! I imagined that he smiled as they recognized him, and then winked and disappeared. I bet he was just so full of excitement when he disappeared, as well as God. I can just imagine all of the heavens full of excitement and anticipation at the revelation of his resurrection and the coming of the Kingdom of God!
It keeps going! Later on, the two men went back to the disciples and told them that he had risen! As they were all talking about this, Jesus appeared amidst them and said, "Peace be with you." It's probably a good way to enter a room, seeing as how most people will be scared out of their pants at the sudden sight of your living body. He showed them his wounds, and then told them that he was hungry. He finally got to break bread with his best friends, and was able to "open their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Can you imagine the relief?! The excitement and joy!? I can- I was so flippity-jippin excited when I read this. I cried, and asked Katrina Elyse to finish reading it out loud because I couldn't make my voice work without cracking. It is just so beautiful: He finally fulfilled the will of God. He went through hell for all of us whom he loves as his father does- just so that we may be best friends with them as he is with his father and the twelve. We have that opportunity to be best friends with him now, because of what he did for us. "He told them, 'This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things, I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.' When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken u pinto heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God."
What an amazing God we have! I encourage you to read Luke and put yourselves in the story- be the disciples, imagine their emotions, their love for each other and Christ. Imagine his love and joy for us. He is awesome, and deserves all the highest praise that we have.