Remember How He Told You… These Bones Will Live Again

It's Easter! God has raised up Jesus from the dead! 'Startling… to those who witnessed it. 'Shocking… to those who knew him best. 'Devastating… to the powers-that-be that weren't. 'Defeating… to the demons determined to bedevil us belov`ed children of God. Surpassing surprising, even to seekers, who come here expecting it. And yet… he told us so. All he was doing… was keeping his word.

"I told you so." Don't you just love to hear that? Ain't it just music to your ears? NOT! Now, I'm the love-enchanted father of two enchanting (at least their mother and I think so) young adults. Well they never liked it when I said, "I told you so" in any form. 'Still don't. How about you and yours? Dying eggs to help the Bunny? Cups filled too full? Too much fooling whiles the color-stuff fizzes? Bam! Over go yellow and red. 'Headin' for the floor. And Papa says, "Didn't I tell you…?!" 'Sound familiar? But there's another kind of "Toldja" that strikes a different chord in our souls. I've seen it, tender and true… among you! Somebody sick, sick unto death sick. Elder. Or newly wed (sort of). Parent and child. Frail. Tired. Dozing and waking. Partner still there, waiting. One looking up on the other looking down says, "I can't believe you're still here." The other looks down on the one looking up and says, "But I told you I would be… a long time ago. Remember?"

Here is the stuff of God in his Risen Christ! Just ask the angels at the empty tomb. Hear them say again, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." With God, all things are possible! Even dead, dry bones will live again! Jesus' bones. Our bones. No bones about it. He told us so!

Easter News! It's OK if we can't believe our own eyes today! Just believe God's eyes. And he's told us what he sees. Time and again Scripture reveals what God sees we can't (or won't). Just when things just look impossible to us, God sees it otherwise. Over 500 years before Easter, God gives the prophet Ezekiel a holy vision. Israel's in deep trouble. Many of its people carried off into exile in far-away Babylon, spoils of war. It's been years now. No help. No hope. No sense of God-near-at-hand. In his dreams, God leads Ezekiel, our prophet, to a valley filled with bones. Busted apart, baked in the sun, bone dry, dead as a doornail bones. (Looked like the aftermath of the lost battles of the ages.) 'Not enough to just look. No, God sets Ezekiel down in the midst of them, leads him around by the hand so he can see up close how desperately dead, how no-chance-for-change this place and people are. And then God whispers in Zeke's good ear, "Mortal, can these bones live again?" Zeke was zealous to say, "Get outa here, God," but even dreamin', that's a kind of CLM (career limiting move) for a prophet. So he says, "Lord, you know!" That's Biblespeak for, "God only knows!" Well, he does! He sees with eyes we don't have. "Zeke," says God, "Prophesy to these bones. Tell 'em I'll get 'em up, put 'em back together, dress 'em in the flesh, and breathe into'em my very own breath… and they'll live again!" What a story, a vision, a sight! Even dreamin', Ezekiel can't believe his own eyes. But God says, "You go tell my people, it's not about what they can see, but what I can. Don't settle for believin' with your own eyes. From now on, you believe with my eyes!" "Let me tell you what I see," God says. "Life beyond death, hope in the valley of the shadow, saving beyond all suffering, love above all loneliness, breath for those who are out of theirs, a chance for those who are willing to change, for those who are willing to let go of the hell their in and the hell their headed for, just to hold hands with heaven." ['No accident, friends, the gesture of the cross is outstretched arms; wounded, but opened hands. Not even excruciating pain can clench the fists of Jesus.]

Wait! How'd we get from Ezekiel back to Jesus? 'Cause it's hard to read about the prophet and not see the Savior at the same time. Easter is dry bones risin'… and souls too! Jesus' first, us next! The Marys couldn't believe their own eyes. Why should we expect to? Peter bolted for the broken-open tomb. Looked in, and freaked out… our phrase for wonder, fear, doubt and desire, all rolled together. 'Couldn't believe his eyes. 'Didn't need to, either. Only needed to believe God's eyes. God in Christ sees what we in ours cannot. Resurrection! Redemption!

If you came today with all your bones connected and calm in your soul, enjoy the music. Glory in the garden right before your eyes. Give thanks to God for the sake of Christ. If in your soul you've got it all together, well, just pray for the rest of us, will ya'? BUT, if you came here a dry-bones believer, you've got lots of company! I know some of us are headin' for hospital bedsides this week that look hopeless. Not with God's eyes. Not after the resurrection. Some of us came for the light of Easter because there are such shattering shadows at home. Busted, bleached, battered marriages. Troubled teens. Kids who'd rather see the flu than their report card. Folks who thank God for bad luck, 'cause without it, they'd have no luck at all. A few folks here are literally on portable oxygen. (All of us have to ask God for our very next breath.) A lot of us are as out of breath as Jesus-still-in-the-tomb… at work, in our spiritual life. We just can't breathe as we are. Some of us have such trouble seeing a way through our troubles that except for Easter and a few other Sundays here and there, we fall off the bandwagon-of-believing like blind roofers on a windy day. Today's the day to say it doesn't have to belike this. The Marys' report of a raised up Jesus is no idle tale! For once, forever, in Jesus' risen name, I invite you to decide today, not to believe your own eyes, but God's. He sees a Savior in our tomorrow… today.

O, Easter News today! We don't have to invent what to say. 'Just to tell what we've seen and heard. "Remember he told you, the Son of man must be delivered into sinners' hands, be crucified, and on the third day rise." The angels tell us what to say. All we have to do is remember what we saw and heard. Now that doesn't just mean recall (mentally), it means re-member, reconnect (spiritually). With his life. And where he's touched you in your own. Reconnect with his cross. A bloodless, painless Jesus is a counterfeit Christ. I'm wary of a god who requires a suffering Son for his sake. I am grateful for a God whose Son would choose to suffer for our sake. That's Jesus. Absorber of the worst we can conjure up of sin and sorrow. Rejecter of the most evil can offer. "He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires, to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." "Born anew, and from above." "Love one another as I love you." The angels tell us, remember and reconnect, recognize his rising! It's hard to say it more clearly than we sing it, "Lo, in the grave he lay, Jesus, my Savior. He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!" My Lord. Other folks' too, to the ends of the earth, for all the ages. But today, this Easter Day, my Lord! It became the Marys' song, Peter's too. Let it be yours!

O, Easter News today. We don't have to know how to go. 'Just to know where we're headed. 'Amazing, but no surprise. God in Christ says, "I told you so." Five hundred years before Easter, God said to his son Ezekiel, "These bones are the whole of Israel…. Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord: I will open your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into your own land.'" Praise God! But the Easter angels bring word from God's Son of Sons, "I will bring you home into God's own heaven. And you shall know that I am the Lord. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live." Know this in your bones, friends, and even when your outa luck, you'll never be outa hope! God has not raised his Christ to leave us in doubt or in death. Not if we choose to walk with him. We don't have to know how at first. We just need to head where he's headed. And he's already told us where he's goin'. ("I go to prepare a place for you," he says.) The Marys got it, by and by. Margaret did too. Margaret Shore. She prescribed it be written on her gravestone, "Margaret Replogle Shore. 1921-1977. Thanks for stopping by. See you later." Now there's a humble heart. A trusting, teaching heart. An Easter heart. Seeing with God's eye. These bones will live again. Reporting what she'd seen and heard. He told us, after all. Not in the grave but risen, just as he promised! All he is doing is keeping his Word. And all he is wanting… is us… keeping company with him!

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