Sunday afternoon, Jerusalem, the first Easter. Surely the most joyous of all days since Creation!
But you'd never know something marvelous had taken place by looking at Jesus' disciples. They are huddled together in a room with the doors locked!
They are scared. Confused. Filled with doubt. Overcome by fear.
Oh, yes, they heard the women's story of seeing angels who told them that Jesus was risen. Peter and John had been to the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene had reported talking to Jesus and had brought a message from Him.
You want to say to them, "What's it going to take, guys?"
Be patient with them. They've had the worst week in history.
A week ago on this day, all Jerusalem was filled with praise for Jesus. A parade, flowers, palm branches, Jesus enjoyed acclaim from the crowd. Looking ahead, the disciples saw only fame and prosperity in their future.
Like most first-century Jews, the disciples believed the Messiah would restore Jewish control over the nation of Israel. They expected the theocracy of Israel to be fully and finally established. Events of Palm Sunday seemed to point toward the announcement of Jesus' kingdom soon, and they anticipated being given places of honor in the new government.
Their biggest concern was who would have the highest position!
On Tuesday, Jesus spent time giving them more teaching, but they had little interest and less understanding. They had the scenario all figured out; why was Jesus delaying? They were ready!
But by midnight Thursday their bubble had begun to burst.
Jesus was arrested and a series of trials began. Still, they hoped this was all just preliminary to His making the big announcement of His kingship!
Then the letdown: the end was not earthly kingship but crucifixion.
Their hopes were dashed. No king, no kingdom, no prominent places for them.
Instead they suffer grief, guilt, regret, fear, and questions. Had they been duped? How could a Messiah die? And will the Jews take their anger out on His friends? Will they be crucified?
Sunday brought the babbling of the women about seeing angels and a risen Lord. They couldn't believe such stories. They had seen Him die! Now His body is missing. Is this some plot? Will they be accused? They meet to talk over their options.
They are about to learn one of the great truths of all time:
In God's economy, every crucifixion is meant to be followed by a resurrection.
For every winter, there is a spring; for every valley, a mountain top; for the deepest pain, the greatest joy.
Yet, God gives us a choice. We can stay behind locked doors, holding on to the pain, or walk with the risen Lord into the future.
Are you headed for a resurrection? Here are some things you need to do to get there:
1. Accept the peace that God gives.
When Jesus joined the disciples in their meeting, He brought them peace. They still didn't understand all that had happened or why, but He was with them again. His presence brings peace and destroys fear.
Fear paralyzes. The devil will convince you that it's safer where you are than in the place God has for you. Jesus had ordained His disciples to take the gospel to the world, and His promise was to go with them. His presence with them renewed that promise. Let His presence in your heart still the fear that would keep you from fully knowing Him.
2. Be willing to move on.
The disciples weren't finished with being disciples. Jesus needed them to teach about His spiritual kingdom. Their dreams of being cabinet members would be reformatted to visions of evangelizing.
You can hold on to your hurts, rehash your failed dreams, talk endlessly about your suffering. You can dissect how you got to the crucifixion and what you might have done differently. Or you can retreat to living in memories of better days and happier times. But if you do, you'll miss the resurrection God has for you. Pass through the valley of weeping, but come out to climb again. God has work for you to do.
3. Welcome the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your heart.
Jesus said to the disciples, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (John 20:22) The Spirit will give you boldness for the battles ahead. These disciples got out from behind locked doors and began preaching in the streets!
The Spirit will also teach you to forgive those who were involved in your hurt. Jesus set the example on the Cross. Even then, He was headed for the Resurrection.
In your walk with God, crucifixions will come, but God does not leave you there. If you stay, it's because you thwarted His attempts to lead you to the Resurrection.
Are you ready to come out from behind the barricade you've put up and let Jesus' resurrection power direct your future? If you are, this may be the most joyous day of your life!