The pinnacle of our church year is Easter Sunday when after Lenten days of fasting we can shout, “Alleluia, He is Risen” and truly celebrate the joy of Jesus’ great sacrifice. For those of us today, though, it’s all hind sight. We already knew what was coming, we read the end of the book. Think for a moment what it was like for the disciples and the rest of those who Jesus loved (namely the women) between the last supper and that fate filled Sunday morning. How dark, sad and lonely must their thoughts have been. They weren’t waiting with bated breath outside the tomb for Jesus resurrection, no, they were hiding in secret, in a room, afraid for their lives.
I’ve always wondered about those dark three days, when their faith was put to the ultimate test. Did they suffer the doubt and shame of not saving their friend, or was it anger that he wouldn’t save himself, or perhaps grief that what they had believed for three years was a pipe dream, a fairy tale? When it came right down to it did they really believe that he accomplished what he came for? All those months of witnessing miracles and spell binding sermons and now this? It must have been torture for them, this dark night of the soul, especially since they actually lived with Jesus every day and believed completely that he was the Son of God. But what about the rest of us? We have the easy part, we get to celebrate the resurrection year after year. And why I must extend this great challenge: how are we any better than those men hiding in a secret room?
While I don’t want to take away the power of the resurrection, I am amazed at how many are stuck in the darkness. He is risen, the veil of the sanctuary torn, the dead raised, and the gates of hell broken, all as our heritage tells us and yet more than 2000 years later we still live in fear. We, who know the end of the story and filled with His grace still persist in living lives where judgement reigns in the forefront rather than love, and condemnation rather than celebration. Remember these words from Matthew when he spoke to his disciples: “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
He is with us. I truly believe that if everyone really believed those words, we would embrace everyone with love, because He is with us in every action. That which you do to the least of them, you do to me, Jesus said that, not me. You can’t make disciples of nations by condemning them…that is the darkness of the room talking, not one who has brought us into the light of His new day.