Now today and each day forward we celebrate Jesus lives; AND. We celebrate the inner spirit within us; the spirit of overcoming; the ability within us to rise up and meet situations, to learn the things we need to learn, and to come out and experience a new kind of birth. We have that power of Easter within us by following Jesus Christ.
He said: Follow me. So today, we are going to be looking at the guide He left us of some of the ways we can follow in His footsteps.
Let’s focus on Jesus and look back to imprint on our memory the amazing and awesome revelation of Easter.
With the first he first stage of this journey of ours – you, me, Jesus –is that there is an entry point. Something happens. Something shifts in our life. A change comes about which we often do not relish or enjoy. Life is nudging us to make a shift, and it often does it at the least expected times.
My entry point was getting very sick and requiring surgery and the realization I had standing in my front yard after receiving the “news.” ForJesus, it was the Last Supper. Think about what happened at the Last Supper. Jesus knew He was about to be betrayed. He talked about giving his teachings to the disciples and to people everywhere through them. He talked about giving the bread – His body, His teachings, the ideas He shared, His Divinity – which could help people transform their lives. He spoke very deeply and very seriously because He knew that the Last Supper was His entry point into perhaps the most difficult, path ever taken by anyone.
He knew He was going to be betrayed, and He told them that. He said: One of you will betray me tonight, and others will even deny that you know me.” The disciples said, “Oh no, we would never do that!” Yet, we know that they did. They hid, they lied, the betrayed.
If you think about your entry point into your spiritual journey, it begins with betrayal – betrayal by a friend, by getting fired, betrayal by your body. Betrayal is one of the things that give us our entry point into seeking higher meaning in our lives.
It is very important for us to look at how we think of ourselves when we take that first step into our journey. Do we begin to condemn ourselves and think, “There is something wrong with me! What am I doing to cause this?” Oh, how I thought those thoughts! Or do we look upon it as a journey through learning something about ourselves, which will bring us up higher spiritually? Spiritually know that if there is a crucifixion, with God there must be a resurrection. Rather than something wrong, look upon it as something with God’s perfect Divine help being made right?
We are ready for something to be made right in our lives. If we look upon our challenges that way, we live on a spiritually higher plane.
After Jesus made the entry point, He began what is called “The Road of Trials.” That is the second phase of the spiritual journey. We have all been there. Maybe you are going through them now, or have had them in the past, and will, of course,have them in the future. The spiritual journey, the trials, is one way we rise above where we are right now and come into a greater consciousness of God.
The road of trials is sometimes filled with agony. At the Garden of Gethsemane, after the Last Supper, Jesus said: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He was in great agony. He went through the betrayal. He was betrayed by Judas – a friend He had been with for three years. Judas kissed him – the kiss of betrayal. Jesus experienced trial of attack and misjudgement. He was wrongly mocked, ridiculed, judged, and scorned. The road of trials is a sometimes part of the spiritual journey, and it is not an easy part….not an easy road.
How did Jesus take it? What is He trying to say to us about how to take our road of trials? One of the first things He did was to pray. And He prayed a very special kind of prayer – a prayer of surrender. He said, in effect, “Not my will but Thine be done.” He said: If this cup could pass from me, let it pass. But nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done. Not my will, but Yours be done. That was His prayer of surrender.
That is one of the most powerful prayers we can ever pray. It is also one of the most difficult because it requires that we trust in God fully – that there is something profound and mysterious happening in our lives, even though we do not like it. It requires that we trust. We know that there is a greater good. We know there is a power within us and around us that is leading us through the crises in our life. We know that God’s will for us, is ultimate good. God never leaves our side, and we are never alone.
To pray the prayer of surrender requires that we trust in God’s will for us as ultimate good; that there is a greater good for us waiting to happen. I do not know about you, but when I get caught up in a road of trials, I usually forget to pray the prayer of surrender. It is important for us to advance spiritually to always remember and pray the prayer of surrender.
I think this is one of the most outstanding points Jesus has taught us–the prayer of surrender; the prayer of trust.
Later on, the third phase of the journey is making the inner shift. The road of trials will not lead to resurrection (to us becoming a new person in God) without some kind of inner shift occurring.
Jesus talked about this spiritual inner shift. On the Cross, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The inner shift we need to make when we are going through our road of trials is to forgive the event, the circumstance, or the person, who seems to have been the entry point for our reluctant journey – the person/event who seems to have caused our pain.
People who study the mystical path tell us that without the ability to forgive, we will not resurrect; we will not become the new being that we are meant to become. Forgiveness is spiritually important.
Another important thing Jesus taught us is the importance of vision.
There is a story about vision. It is set in Proverbs of the Old Testament. Without vision, the people perish. The Jewish tradition says that the greatest event that happened in the life of the Israelites was to break free from bondage in Egypt, to come before the Red Sea and be
touched by God’s miraculous power, and make it through. They thought that they were trapped, cornered, with no way out. With God, there is always a way.
But Jewish tradition also says that there were a couple of Israelites who did not experience the joy and the miracle of the breaking through the Red Sea. These two men came to the Red Sea and looked down at the mud. They never looked up and saw the miracle that was occurring. One man said, “Oh, mud, mud everywhere. Why do we have to walk through this?” The other man replied, “Yes, it is just like the slime pits back in Egypt. I would just as soon be back in Egypt. I do not enjoy what is going on.” So they grumbled and moaned all the way across the bottom of the Red Sea, as they looked down at the mud, the mire, and the muck.
When they got to the other side, they could never see why people were rejoicing in a miracle, because they never looked up. They never had the vision of what was happening.
So, when we are going through our Easter journeys, it is very important to hold onto the vision. Something marvelous is happening, even though we may not know what it is for a brief moment.
What do we learn from this inner shift? We learn that we need to forgive; we learn that we need to hold the spiritual vision; and we also learn that we need to honor what Jesus did in the tomb. A lot of people forget about the tomb experience. It is about drawing apart, or entering the silence.
If we rush from old endings into new beginnings without taking time to draw apart, without taking time to pause and reflect, we will repeat the same mistakes that we made before. If we study people who made successful transitions, we find that those who did took time to draw apart, to be by themselves, to reflect and to learn. This is what Jesus’ experience in the tomb represents to me – a time alone, not rushing into new beginnings, but taking time. That is another lesson we need to learn – take time to reflect, renew, and be healed in God’s power.
Then there is a breakthrough on Easter Sunday morning, which comes through the joyous words, “He’s alive! He is risen!” That is the celebration of Easter – the joyous spirit of the ability to overcome. And, oh, how we celebrated that event last week.
We pray that we will overcome and learn the things we need to learn and become the kind of person we need to become through this spiritual journey. We are Easter people. We are known more by our resurrections than our crucifixions.
And we then will celebrate Easter every day.
Pray with me: Father of Light, guide us through our Easter journey, that we may make that inner shift and move forward in your footsteps by learning to forgive, to hold on to that spiritual visions and also to learn how to enter into the silence of Your bosom. We are ready to take that step and stand here before You to begin the journey. Thank You for showing us the way. Amen
God Bless You.