Never in all of Time has there been a blacker darkness than the
long, empty hours following
the cruel death and hasty, but reverent, burial
of the blood-stained, tortured body of Jesus.
To the little band of believers, his death was an unbelievable shock
and grief. They hadn't expected this to happen even though He had
told them several times. It was not conceivable
that He Who had become the center of their
lives, their hopes and dreams, should die such
a shameful death. And ashamed as they were to admit it, their grief was
mixed with fear for their own lives. After all , everyone knew they were
His disciples. What now? What will happen to them? Where will they go?
What will they do? For them, life itself is now meaningless.
Slowly, one by one, or two or three, they drifted
back, drawn together by grief, shame,in need of direction,and
loneliness ,for without Him, having known Him so well , they would
always be alone .
Somehow, they survived, drawing a little comfort from each other , until that morning.. ...THAT morning. Women who had been His devoted followers ,showing courage they, His disciples had lacked,had gone to give Him a more fitting burial. They came here, bursting in like mad-women with a crazy story, jumbled, incoherent. What are they saying??Empty tomb. His body gone....something about angels..go tell....WHAT??? No, this is impossible..grief has effected their sanity. Yet , look at them! Look how their faces are aglow with wonder and joy, how their eyes sparkle, listen to the lilt and laughter in their voices.They are saying that HE IS ALIVE AND HAS APPEARED AND SPOKEN TO THEM!!!! Oh that it were possible, that these precious women were bringing such unbelievable tidings Suddenly they are all thrown into confusion.
Here are two disciples who live in Emmaus out-of- breath having run all the way back telling them a stranger had overtaken them on the way home and had explained things to them in a strangely familiar way They invited Him in and as they sat to eat, the Stranger assumed the role of host, took the bread, blessed, broke it, handed it to them....and disappeared!.
IT WAS HIM...oh, yes, they were sure, it was Him.alright. Then Peter stumbles in, his face a mixed-up picture of shock, joy, belief, strength. What did he say??He has seen HIM ? Time has run together, they hang in some balance as if waiting for something, they know not what. As if all at the same time they all took a deep breath and before they could exhale...
THERE HE IS.. THERE HE STANDS RIGHT
IN THEIR MIDST. Who let Him in? The door is still locked. Suddenly, their knees turn to water, they begin to tremble, their hearts seem about to explode, their minds refuse to function clearly. He smiles that little smile of His they all knew so well, a gentle smile, a little tease tucked in the corner and He opens His mouth to speak. Involuntarily, with one accord, their eyes held by that familiar gaze, they all fall to their knees in worship before Him. Unable to grasp the truth, afraid to believe what must be too good to be true, they wait . Tenderly, He reaches out His hands to them, palm up showing them the scarred flesh..flesh somehow miraculously healed as were the scars on His forehead.
He spoke one word.."Peace". And they remembered how many times He had said that same word in just this same way, , and peace falls over the room, filling each heart with that sweet, quiet , trusting stillness He always instilled with His Presence.
"Come, touch me, handle me and see for yourself that I AM real and not a ghost." He stands there, inviting their amazed, joyful reassurance , reacquainting themselves with this One Who was dead and is alive again.And their joy knows no bounds . Their crazy world has righted itself, their confusion is ended, their fear has gone, their Master has returned from that place where no one has ever returned. JESUS OF NAZARETH, SON OF MARY, SON OF GOD, FRIEND ABOVE ALL FRIENDS, HAS CONQUERED DEATH AND RETURNED BRINGING ETERNAL LIFE WITH HIM TO ALL WHO BELIEVE. Because He lives,night turns to day. mourning turns to joy, despair to hope, fear to courage, weakness to strength, turmoil to peace, defeat to victory. No, the world will never be the same again.