My son Ben has cognitive disabilities and very little language. But sometimes he intuitively understands what our “normal” intelligence blinds us to. Our Easter celebration last weekend got me thinking: If Ben had been at the tomb that first Easter morning, things might have gone down a little differently….
Ben’s version: “Yute gwok” (huge rock). Sign “push”. Shrug shoulders. “Izzy?” (Where is he?) While the women cry, he proceeds to search around the tombs yelling, “Bro?”
Mary was looking for a dead body. Ben would have been looking for his hero and his friend. He doesn’t understand that death is permanent or that resurrection is miraculous. He just loves. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” asked the angels (Luke 24:5). Indeed.
Ben’s version: “My guy!” Followed by a lengthy bear hug. Jesus stumbles a little at the sudden impact, laughing.
We require the whole story, a detailed explanation and corroborating evidence before we will believe. Mary didn’t recognize Jesus, and then her words seemed so preposterous that the disciples didn’t believe her. Thomas famously demanded physical proof. While the women’s preconceived beliefs and experience clouded their sight, I believe that Ben would have recognized his friend immediately, unfazed at the miracle before him.
Sometimes we just need to take Jesus at face value, drop our baggage and come to him like Ben does. Ben’s faith doesn’t demand an escape clause. He doesn’t require a metaphorical prenup before he believes. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:17)
Ben’s simple faith and exuberant expression of it challenges me daily. It’s fun to imagine his reaction on that first Easter. But what if it was me there at the tomb in the early morning darkness – how would I react? How would you? When Friday crushes our hopes and Saturday lingers long in the silence of death, how would we respond to the news of Sunday morning?
Some people ignore the abundance of historical evidence for the resurrection because it threatens their resolve to captain their own ships into the abyss. Some are afraid of the implications. And some, like Ben, simply step into the welcome of a love so astounding and real that everything changes from that day forward.
Ben’s childlike faith is rooted in the post-resurrection reality of joyful friendship with God. He has done the work, torn open the curtain of separation to welcome us in. It only remains for us to step over the threshold. The question is – will we?
If Ben had been there that first Easter, there would have been cheering. There definitely would have been hugging. And I’m absolutely, positively sure that God would have been pleased.