But Jesus, in a short life of redeeming love, came to reveal God and kept reminding all those with whom He had contact that to truly see God one only need look at Him. He defined the essence of relationship by living among those who were in His presence in such ways that allow the imperfections of humanity to be erased completely. Such erasures enable God to see the redeeming work of Jesus as that which hides, forever, the ugliness of those who accept the Son, and they are never seen as sinful but only as part of the redeemed.
Jesus did not live as One of special privilege. He was born into a family, had siblings and friends, and He was like them but never completely one of them. He was no Oracle to be consulted but was one who toiled with those whose lives were filled with the demand to labor in providing the necessities of daily life. He was God walking among them, and, in Him, Jehovah became Father in a sense that could be comprehended.
He related to people in personal ways that allowed for relationships of deep and meaningful influence. And when He died, He made this promise: “Lo, I am with you always.” Why would He have said that? Possibly to allow us the confidence of knowing that our relationship with Him has been carried across the ravine of death and is secure with Him, along with the invitation that this grace is available to all those who will accept Him as the Redeemer and Savior.
We are assured of this promise in very human emotions today. After His resurrection He appeared to many people in varying locations. He was gone and then He was there. It was not possible to know when or where He might suddenly appear. Perhaps this is His lesson of teaching us that we are never really alone. Our lives are filled with tension and stress, and there are times when desperation consumes us. And then, suddenly, we sense a quiet moment and for inexplicable reasons, we are no longer fearful. He is unseen but present.
This lesson, perhaps magnified by His instruction to Mary at the tomb not to touch Him, has confused many, but maybe He was saying to her, and to us, that she needed to move beyond physical touching and to gain a deeper understanding of that which must be believed without proof of physical affirmation. Faith is like that and demands that we believe beyond our ability to comprehend. Faith is trust, and until we learn to trust, we are never able to know Him.
The distance between those who have died and those of us who remain is gossamer thin. Just as we can sense the “mysterious presence” of the Lord, we have the ability to sense the presence of those who died. After having loved one for a lifetime, and watching them step into the presence of God, those who benefit from the promise that Jesus made to always be with them becomes the reality of experience. We can hear their voice, their laughter, sense their presence in a room, feel their hand in ours, and never sense that a great distance separates us.
This valley of dark shadows and scary images is filled with the light of God’s glory and reveals the affirmation of trust that is evidence of Christian faith. We have no need to touch our departed love one to sense their presence. A lifetime of commitment, however weak at times, is fortified by the life of Christ and in His surprising appearances that perhaps defined in more detail the lesson that He may have taught to Mary. We can move beyond the need for physical touch that proves existence and can reach for deeper awareness that we are never alone, and in that promise we inherit the ability to discern that death cannot separate us by great distance.