Many times across the years. I have tried to place myself in the emotional, spiritual and physical experience of the disciples. While I am sure those efforts have fallen short, it is nonetheless a good exercise. No other time of the year provides such a great opportunity.
It was bad Friday. The euphoria we had experienced as Jesus entered Jerusalem was now marked by fear, disbelief and bewilderment. Oh, Jesus had given us hints over the last three years that something traumatic was on the horizon. But frankly, we just could not wrap our minds around it. Things were going too well. The crowds were enormous, and, with the exception of the Jewish leaders, His popularity had never been higher.
The first clear indication came as we experienced Passover. The symbols and rituals we had followed all of our lives were given new wings by Jesus. When Judas suddenly bolted from the room, Jesus told him to do what he was to do. It was an eerie experience.
The next hours were a whirlwind. The arrest. The sham trial. And now we who promised to stand by Him lurk in the shadows, hoping no one will know we are connected to Him.
It is finished. In fact, those were His words from the cross. Every ounce of life drained out of me in that one moment. Jesus—dead! I confess, hope died inside of me. I thought He was the Messiah. Now He is gone. My dreams and hopes for the restoration of Israel died with Him.
We walked back to our friends’ home and sat in stunned silence. If they crucified Him, would we be next? What do we do now? Have we followed Him in vain? Saturday night seemed interminable. Darkness seemed more intense than at any time in my life. Will morning ever come?
Oh, it came all right. As we sat around the table in a stupor for lack of sleep, the door suddenly burst open. No knocking. No waiting for an invitation to come inside. The women startled us and demanded our attention. “He is alive! He is alive!” Who is alive? They just kept yelling, “Jesus is alive! The tomb is empty. He talked to us in the garden!”
Peter and John did not wait for discussion or consult the rest of us before tearing out of the room to check their story. They ran to the tomb. Sure enough. The tomb was empty. Nothing was there but the shroud that had covered His body.
Then it all flooded back to the forefront of our memory. He had told us He was going to die. He had stated emphatically that on the third day He would arise. We just never connected the dots. The unalterable, remarkable, indescribable truth is that Jesus has arisen from the grave. No hope became eternal hope. Grief was swallowed up by the victory of the resurrection. He is the Messiah! Eternally the Lord of lords and King of kings!
That one Sunday morning changed not only my life—it has changed the life of every person who placed faith in Him as the Messiah. As the women said, “He is alive!!”