I can only imagine what the disciples and Jesus’ other followers must have felt that Friday after the crucifixion. They had watched as Jesus had been condemned by Pilate. They had watched as Jesus had been forced to carry the rough, heavy cross along the Via Dolorosa and had fallen three times under the weight of it. The pain of seeing him beaten and ridiculed was great, but the pain of watching the huge spikes being driven through his hands and feet was unbearable. To hear him call out to his Heavenly Father must have wrenched their hearts and souls indeed.
Jesus was dead. They had seen him die with their own eyes. They had never known such deep despair. The skies were dark as the Roman soldiers had secured Jesus’ body in a tomb and set an enormous boulder in front of it. Guards had been placed in front of the tomb to protect it even further…perhaps in their minds to insure that the disciples would not take Jesus’ body.
Knowing what we know now, you and I want so badly to remind the disciples that Jesus had told them he would return…that he would rise again. Even though they had been in the upper room and had heard the words for themselves, they didn’t remember…or didn’t believe it. Would we have been any different? Had we seen with our own eyes the Saviour die, would we have been waiting by the tomb on the morning of the third day? Just in case we’re too hard on the wavering disciples, remember the promise that He has given to us. He’s coming AGAIN for us…are we waiting expectantly?
The simple truth is that Jesus CONQUERED death and rose to live again on the third day just as He promised. He BECAME my sacrifice…and yours…in order that, through repentance of our sins and belief in Him, we might have eternal life.
I love the stories of Jesus’ appearing to his disciples and followers after his resurrection. One of my favorite stories, is when he appeared to Peter. Remember, Peter had done just what Jesus had told him that he would do: he had denied Jesus three times. Ashamed and brokenhearted, Peter had return to his fishing…his old way of life. There, at the Sea of Galilee, Jesus spoke to Peter and asked him three times if Peter loved Him more than these (his old life). It broke Peter’s heart that Jesus questioned three times…when Peter had answered him, “yes, Lord, you know that I love You”. After the third answer, Jesus said to Peter, “Tend My sheep”. Imagine the weight that was lifted from Peter’s shoulders at that moment…the forgiveness that he felt…the determination. I wonder if Peter had an inkling then of the role he would play in the development of the early church.
So, on this Easter morning, I’m reminded that it’s no longer Friday, the tomb is empty and Jesus is ALIVE! Praise God!