"And they all lived happily ever after." Fairy tales always seem to end that way, don't they? No matter how bad things seem to get for the heroes, the story always ends perfectly. All their problems are solved, perfectly and permanently.
Too bad it doesn't work that way in real life, huh? We always seem to face some problem or other. Even when problems are resolved and crises come to an end, we still end up struggling with the aftermath and dealing with the everyday issues and frustrations of life.
That's how it was for Jesus' followers on the first Easter. Early that morning, when the first rays of the sun had just started to peek over the horizon, some of the women who had faithfully followed Jesus from Nazareth to Jerusalem sadly made their way to his tomb. Shockingly, they discovered it empty. There was no dead body in it. Instead, there was a living angel who told them that Jesus wasn't dead. He had risen!
If the account of Jesus' resurrection was a fairy tale, this is the part where we'd read, "And they all lived happily ever after." At the very least, we'd expect the Gospel writers to say something like, "Overwhelmed with relief and joy, the women ran from the tomb, excitedly shouting the news of Jesus' resurrection to everyone they met." But that's not what the Bible tells us. Instead, St. Mark writes, "Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid."
Trembling? Bewildered? Afraid? That certainly doesn't sound like a fairy tale, does it? But it does sound like real life. Those followers of Jesus were real people. They had real weaknesses and real doubts. They faced real sadness and felt real skepticism. Just like us.
Thankfully, the story of Easter doesn't end on that note. Slowly, over the next several days and weeks, Jesus made repeated, personal appearances to his followers. He walked with them, talked with them, ate with them and allowed them to touch him. Their fears subsided, their doubts were replaced with confidence, and their sorrow gave way to joy. This didn't happen instantly, nor did it mean they would never again face problems, find their faith challenged, deal with sadness, or have to overcome doubts in their lives. But Easter changed their lives. From now on, they would fall back on the confidence and joy of knowing that they had a living, triumphant Savior when they faced fears and doubts.
So can we. Real life is not a fairy tale. But when we face doubts, deal with pain, suffer grief, and experience frustrations, we turn to our risen, triumphant Lord, who conquered sin and death for us. We don't admire a dead Jesus; we trust in a living Savior, who gets us through the daily challenges of life. And one day, we really, truly will live happily ever after with him. And that's no fairy tale!
- Brent Merten is pastor of Mountain Valley Lutheran Church, 802 Brush Creek Terrace, Eagle.