The JOYFUL King of Easter
As we approach this coming Easter weekend, we should take pause to consider what occurred on this weekend a few millennia ago. Our thoughts should ponder and be filled with humble gratitude as we consider our Lord’s suffering in the Garden, His persecution and rejection (even by some of His former friends), as well as the price He paid upon the cruelty of the cross.
But in addition to those considerations, there is another emotion which I believe is often overlooked, but which in reality is far more important to consider as we ponder over those sacred events and He who brought them to pass. And that emotion is JOY!
Jesus Christ is the Lord and King of Joy! I believe part of what got Him through those moments of agony was His vision of the Joy which awaited when He arose from the Tomb, and what that would mean for all of us! Just think of what He accomplished! He broke the bands of death, arose from the grave, obtained all might and glory from His Father, and was granted the power to redeem all those He loved upon condition of their repentance! Certainly that original Easter was the time of perhaps the greatest Joy in all of eternity! He was given the keys to “The” Kingdom and the ability to invite all of His friends to be a part of it with Him.
But a mistake I think we make is that often times as we consider His might and glory and majesty (and He most definitely is the King of all these things), is that those qualities also cause Him to be eternally distant from us, when in reality He is not distant, but rather different from us.
No don’t get me wrong! In regards to His spiritual status compared to our fallen condition, we are vastly deficient and inadequate in every way, shape and form. And when the moment comes that we will meet Him someday in His glory, I believe not just every knee will bow, but our entire souls and every cell of our physical and spiritual being will collapse before Him in humility, honor, worship and recognition of who He is and what He has done for us, and for the Love and forgiveness which He so freely offers us! Every knee (and every fiber of our being) will bow and every tongue (and every molecule) confess that He is the Christ!
But that difference from us, is often misinterpreted to be that He is also vastly distant from us, which I believe is NOT true at all! And I would go so far as to say that in many ways, He is not as different from us as we falsely assume and imagine. He is absolutely perfect - YES, but also perfect in His humanity in every degree. Perfect in His Joy, Perfect in His Love, Perfect in His Happiness, Perfect in His Humor… yes, I said Humor.
A few years ago, a friend introduced me to a wonderful book called, “Beautiful Outlaw” written by John Eldredge. What I discovered in those pages was a Savior far more personal and approachable than I had ever before imagined. His descriptions and understanding of New Testament passages opened my eyes to a Savior who was perfectly and completely focused and driven, yet also purposeful and even humorous and playful. And while I may not agree 100% with all of the authors doctrinal views, I am grateful for the way his writing and the thoughts of my friend who suggested the book to me, have deepened and personalized my relationship with my Lord and Redeemer in ways I had not before imagined.
(If interested, the author also has a series of YouTube videos (Link to Videos here) in which he reads certain parts of the book to some of his friends. Well worth the time to watch if you aren’t into reading, but the book goes into greater depth and expansion of many concepts not found in the videos)
I won’t go into all the personal and sometimes very intimate details in my own life of how I have come to find this to be true, but let me share just two examples:
First, I will point you back to another blog I have written previously, about how the Lord taught me a very funny and personal lesson, (Here) about how I was just like the personalities of my two dogs!
Second, I will paraphrase the account of an acquaintance of mine, who shared the following humorous account which happened to him in the temple. He was sitting and praying in the Celestial room, and had grabbed a set of scriptures. He prayed and asked the Lord where he should open the scriptures to, in order to learn what He wanted him to learn at that time. He felt a divine smile and the reply, “It doesn’t matter, because you won’t understand it anyway.” He was a bit shocked by this reply, so closed his eyes and prayed more earnestly where he should turn to learn from the Lord, and once again felt a smile and the phrase, “It doesn’t matter, because you won’t understand it anyway.” A bit frustrated by this response, he opened his eyes and decided just to read on his own. As he opened the scriptures and looked down, to his surprise he had grabbed a Spanish set of scriptures and couldn’t understand a single word! At that moment he sensed a mild, divine laughter an almost began laughing out loud himself as he realized why the Lord had replied to his prayers in such a humorous way.
Now these two viewpoints of an All-powerful and a perfect Savior and a personal, fun-loving and humorous Savior seem to stand in contrast to each other. “How can this be?” you might wonder. "Isn’t this some form of DIVINE PARADOX?!"
Well, let me attempt to explain how both sides of the equation can be completely true, and how such an understanding can serve to deepen your relationship with the Lord in ways you may not have previously considered.
Imagine a Great and Mighty King who rules over a vast and powerful kingdom. His subjects respect and agree to be loyal to Him and follow His rules because they know of His wisdom, and His ability to protect them from invaders. He can also provide order and meaning in their lives as part of something bigger than their individual, personal lives can be on their own. But most subjects in the kingdom would probably consider the King to be so different and un-relatable to them, that He would be nothing more than a distant figure head, who didn’t really know they even existed. They would think that perhaps their little lives didn’t even matter to the King. (I think if we have the wrong, or maybe better stated, “INCOMPLETE” view of God, then this is how we mistakenly view our relationship to Him).
Now think about one of your best and dearest of friends. What is it about them that makes them such a dear friend to you?
If you are honest about it, a true friend is someone:
· You can feel completely comfortable around, while being yourself
· You can talk openly and freely to them
· You have probably shared laughter and happiness with them
· You know they will understand what you are feeling
· They are able to console you in your difficulties
· They are able to motivate you to be a better person
· They encourage you to be yourself, but love you enough to NOT let you go down a road of self-destructive behavior
· If you are doing wrong, they love you enough to metaphorically, and perhaps literally, smack you upside the head and tell you to shape up
· They want you to be your best self in your own personal and unique way
· They would continue to care for and love you even if you decided to walk away from the friendship for some reason & they would rejoice over nothing more than for you to come back into their friendship again
Now combine those two ideas into a single Individual. Someone who is a Mighty King, but who just also happens to be your Best Friend! If you were best friends with the King, just think of the possibilities that would open up to you!
The King would not only be able to provide you protection, wisdom and many incredible comforts to help you through your life, but would also have the power to pardon your mistakes and wipe them from the ledger books, pay your debts and even free you from prison if need be. He could send his strongest Knights to protect you as you travel about, and let you search his libraries and be taught by the wisest teachers in His kingdom.
But more importantly, even though He was the King and had endless duties and responsibilities, He would desire your personal companionship – You are his best friend after all! He would also take the time to sit with you, want to talk with you, and be a part of your life. And why would the King do that? Because His life is enriched and made better by having you as His friend!!!
Can you imagine how boring and terrible it would be to be a King, but have no one to share it with? No, your best friend, the King would want you to be with Him in His throne room, and perhaps even invite you to come sit next to Him on His throne sometimes so you could see the splendor of the view from the castle windows which allow Him to see over all His kingdom with complete clarity, from one expanse to the other.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!
In reality, I believe this is EXACTLY what our Lord and King wants for us – to be His Best Friend! He calls to each of us to “Come unto me.” “Come be my friend!” “Share my kingdom with me!” “Come eat, laugh, ENJOY all that I have to offer!”
Can you see it? Can you imagine it? He doesn’t want us to feel distant, unrecognized, or view Him as only an un-relatable being! He wants us to partake of all that life has to offer with Him as our best friend! And because of His Easter Atonement and Resurrection, he has literally walked with us our entire lives and completely understands everything about us – all our emotions, trials, tears, heartaches… and yes… even our happiness and joy!
As we begin to tear down the walls of our incorrect and incomplete views of who He really is, and begin to see Him as not only the Perfect, Mighty King, but also as our greatest friend and ally, then we will begin to not only see but also EXPREIENCE the JOY He has to offer us.
We can then look at the Easter weekend for what it truly is – A time of immense trial, pain, sacrifice and redemption – which should absolutely cause us to pause and bow our heads and bend our knees before He who rose triumphant from the Garden of sorrows and from the Tomb of death.
But it should also fill us with immeasurable JOY, knowing that the King who broke the bands of death, and holds the keys of liberation from death and hell, did so because He is our best and dearest friend – and He did all those things because He loves us and wants us to share in His JOY with Him!
So I invite you to open your minds. Open your hearts. Open your thoughts to the possibility of the most Human of all Humans (because He experienced it ALL in the garden) – your best friend, even Jesus Christ. And as you humbly honor Him as your King, you will also find a deeper and more personal and fun-loving, joyful Friend. And your relationship with Him will never be the same again!
I add my personal testimony and witness to countless others that not only is He the King of all Kings, and Lord of all Lords, but also our greatest friend and advocate with the Father!
Happy Easter and I hope and pray that we will not be blinded and only see Him for half of who He truly is, for He is everything we could ever hope for in a Friend, and wants to exceed our expectation in every way imaginable as we come to know Him better. May we see and truly recognize and sing with all who know Him - that “This is He”