It is nearing Easter, so I will tell an Easter story. It will be a retelling of a story told to me by a youth pastor friend of mine. It is a true story. Eddie’s parents had more interest in him coming to church than he did. He came to keep the peace in the family. But, he didn’t make it easy for my friend the youth pastor. “Why should I believe in any of that make-believe stuff,” he would tell my friend. “I don’t need your Jesus!” One night, after the last youth had left the building, he heard a knock at the door. It was Eddie. His face was white as a sheet and he was sobbing. “I had a little too much to drink tonight and I think I hit someone walking across the street.” My friend was stunned. He didn’t know what to say. Fear rose up in his throat and he blurted out, “Jesus Christ, Eddie. Now you really need Jesus!”
There was no joy in Eddie’s Easter that year. But, in his search for forgiveness, he found Jesus. Of course, it was not the Jesus of the resurrection. It was the Jesus of the cross. Eddie needed a God who could forgive him the disastrous consequences of his carelessness (The pedestrian died.). He found that God, not floating six inches above the tulips on a sunny Easter morning, but nailed to a cross under a black sky, muttering, “Father, forgive them.”
Of course, had he not been raised from the dead, it would have been no different than the thousands of crucifixions, executions and slaughters before him. But, this one was different because in this one God acted to end the power of tyrannical brutality. That’s why you hear about it. Fortunately for Eddie, and for all of us, the forgiveness that deflected that power covered less egregious offenses as well. Happy Easter!