Let's go back to Good Friday. As we read the Gospel stories of the crucifixion of Jesus, we see that almost all the disciples of Jesus deserted him when faced with the apparent disaster of the cross. With their leader dead and their hopes in shambles, they found themselves living in considerable apprehension.
They were feeling helpless and hopeless, discouraged and disillusioned, empty in heart and broken in spirit. Life for them seemed to come to an end. The light had gone out of their hope. There seemed to be no tomorrow for them.
Three years with Jesus, three years of following him, three years of being his disciples, and now they had to try to understand his stunning death and the numbing fact that Jesus was gone forever.
As we look at them, we see a poor messed up band of disciples going home because their dreams had evaporated, going home because they were afraid for their lives. They had believed that Christ was to be the herald of a new order, but now it was evident that they had been wrong, for he had been crucified.
In that bleak moment, it looked as if the disciples were beaten. What is more striking is the remark of one of the disappointed disciples who said, "We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21). And you can almost hear the next sentence, "But we guess we must have been wrong." The enthusiasm of his presence, the shared vitality, the creative hope—all these were gone. One more bubble had burst, one more hope had disappeared.
Yet within a very short time these very same disciples, this messed up little band, this discouraged and disillusioned group, suddenly became changed persons. They suddenly became persons filled with an extraordinary courage and spiritual strength that enabled them to defy the power of both religious and Roman authorities. They had come out of the slough of despondency and became triumphant and courageous persons proclaiming their faith.
What made the difference? "He is not here, but he has risen!" That made the difference.
The broken disciples became strong and confident and bold as lions. They now knew that God had made Christ stronger than those who sought to silence him. They sang, they rejoiced, they healed, they taught, they preached, they lived triumphantly.
And they did not do these things for only a few days of passing enthusiasm after the resurrection of Christ, but they did them for the rest of their lives. They faced persecution and even death with a triumphant spirit that baffled their tormentors.
Why? Because "he is not here, but he has risen."
But it took more than just an event for this to occur. Just observing the event of the resurrection was not enough to turn discouraged disciples into messengers of hope, or to convert disillusioned disciples into proclaimers of the Christian faith. It took more than an event—it took a personal experience with the risen Christ.
The event had to become an experience in order for their lives to be changed. They could witness the event, but only as they had an experience with the living Christ did any change come to the disciples.
Please consider joining us Tomorrow for our Ressurection service celebration. The service starts at 10:30am.