It’s Saturday morning. I’ve walked with Jesus and His disciples this past week.  I’ve tried to hear the noise, the shouts, the whispers, the work sounds, the shuffle of dusty feet. I’ve tried to smell the animal smells and the sweat and the anointing spices. I’ve tried to feel the heat, and uncertainty. I’ve tried to draw near and touch Jesus’ robe.

We walked into Jerusalem with excitement last Sunday, out to Bethany to eat and rest with friends, back into Jerusalem filled with stress, activity, agendas, fear, and hatred, out to Bethany to be anointed, and in for the Last Supper and Passover. Out to the Mt. of Olives for prayer, and into Jerusalem for His trial and death.

Here’s one of the things I’ve noticed. Everyone was watching.

Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over. (Mt.26:16)

Jesus asked His disciples to keep watch with Him on the Mt. of Olives. (26:38)

Peter watched from a distance when Jesus was arrested. (26:58)

Many women watched from a distance at the crucifixion. (27:55)

But one person did more than watch. He courageously drew near after Jesus had been crucified. (Mt. 27:57-61)

When a criminal was executed the body was often left unburied or put in a pauper’s field. A relative, like a mother might ask for the body, but Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin.

The Sanhedrin. One of the groups committed to getting rid of Jesus. But Joseph had become a disciple. And now he went to Pilate and advocated for Jesus. Asked for the body. Gave him a burial in a new tomb. He didn’t follow at a distance. He drew near and honored Jesus.

Joseph felt the sacrifice and was willing to share in it, not just watch.

Watching from a distance is like scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed and “liking” what we see others post. It’s like giving Jesus a wink and a thumbs up without getting our hands dirty. Without any cost to us.

Sometimes Easter morning can feel like that. Just a thumbs up for Jesus before we return to our agendas.

The thing I’m thinking about this morning is how Jesus was “all in” for us. How He didn’t watch from a distance, but drew near and loved us thoroughly and sacrificially. Because of the cross…

There is nothing we can do to make Jesus love us more, and nothing we can do to make Him love us less.

Forgiveness in Christ is there for the taking, but it’s not cheap. It’s not meant to be appreciated from a distance. It’s only as we draw near that we learn that grace cost Jesus everything. And as we do, we see that grace isn’t the permission to withdraw, but the courage and power to step in.

Praying that you and I will draw close this Easter…