As soon as the Easter Vigil was done on midnight of Sunday morning, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy. It’s Easter, people! The tomb is empty! Jesus is risen! The Glory of God has defeated the night! Hallelujah!
And it was an amazing kind of joy, of delight, to know that it is Easter and Jesus is victorious, as He always is. Over the Holy Week, I pondered over how his disciples must have felt, right after Jesus expired on the cross. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of their pain, of their sense of loss and how life could possibly be after their friend was buried in the tomb. They didn’t know that Jesus was going to rise on Sunday. Jesus spoke of it, but I’m sure it was hard to understand then. What’s all this rising again mumbo-jumbo? Why is our friend speaking of death? Surely he didn’t mean it that way.
Then I realized that I actually knew that pain. I felt it, too. I felt it in a miniscule way when every time I was disappointed, I felt it in a bigger way in the times when my heart got broken. I knew a variation of that pain, that sense of loss in realizing that what I had known for the past few days, weeks, months, years is just…gone. And there is nothing I can do to get it back.
Of course I knew that pain.
Earlier in Holy Week, I was reflecting on Jesus’ pain as the week went by. Apparently, Holy Wednesday is also known as Spy Wednesday, because it was day when Judas went to the Pharisees to turn Jesus in. The Gospel that day felt like a knife to my heart:
Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priestsand said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirtypieces of silver to him.From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus. (Matthew 24:14-16)
I could only imagine Jesus’ pain then, knowing that one of his closest friends betrayed him. For thirty pieces of silver. There was so much pain for him in the next few days, but I think the pain of this betrayal — and Peter’s later denial — was even worse than the pain of the crown and the scourging and the nails.
How terrible it is to be betrayed by a friend.
Even more terrible when I realized that there is very little difference between me and Judas.
All this pain because of my sin and my selfishness. All this pain because of pain. All this pain not just on Jesus, but also to the people I failed to love, the people I have sinned against.
The people I have denied, I have betrayed.
Have mercy on me, a sinner.
Then on Friday, as I was praying, I focused on Jesus’ last words: It is accomplished.
It is finished.
It is done.
And then I started crying, because that’s what I keep forgetting: that it is finished. I didn’t finish it. Jesus did. Jesus was nailed to the cross, and with Him were all my sins. The past is finished, and Jesus, in his death and resurrection, have redeemed me, The mistakes of the past are in the past, and yes, I did wrong, but the Resurrection tells me that I need not wallow in the past because it. is. finished.
The beautiful thing about what Jesus did is that He knew it, and still He died for us. He died for me, even before I had sinned. He knew Judas would betray him and that Peter would deny him and the rest of his disciples would flee, and yet He still went through it all, because He loved them. He knew I would sin, I would make mistakes, and I would hurt the people I was supposed to love, and yet He still asked His Father to forgive me because I did not know what I was doing. He did all that, went through all that pain because He loved me.
And He rose again on Easter Sunday, to prove that my sins are no match for His glory, that forgiveness he offers is real and true and whole.
A couple of months back, a friend told me that when we face our fears, we get the opportunity to name ourselves. During that time, I named myself Beloved, Brave, Beautiful and Worthy, because those were the things inside me that roared with the truth. But as the Holy Week came to a close, I realized that I forgot one of my names. It didn’t shout as loud as the other names did, but I realized that it didn’t need to because I had carried that name first before all the others, because Someone else faced that fear for me.
Because my Savior was brave enough to face death and betrayal, brave enough to die. Because my Savior rose from the dead. Because of this. Because of Him.
Because of His love, I name myself Forgiven.