And then, everything changed...
"Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning..."
"Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn..."
"Now when the Sabbath was past,...very early in the morning..."
"Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark..."
The four quotations are from the four gospels (Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John) and each describes the Sunday morning, day after the Sabbath, after Jesus died on the cross.
I say if that frank because here is the driving fact and see if you can't put yourself in their shoes.
When Jesus died on the cross, in the disciples, everything in them died too.
Their investment of three years of their life.
Their new social relationships.
All gone, sealed away in the tomb of the One they had put all their faith in.
Have you been there?
You know, the place of no hope? The place where dreams were shattered? The place of disappointment? The place of the broken heart? The place of confusion?
A Familiar Darkness
Think about the disciples. Everything that they had placed into this following of Jesus: personal hope, religious hope, national hope, all ended with His death. Unceremoniously, on a cursed Roman cross, in the midst of an outbreak of persecution and death threats, social exclusion and economic peril, every dream they had was gone when Jesus died.
Now, what were they? What were they supposed to be and do? Were they a political movement? A religious one? While they were hiding for their lives, were they even a movement?
Darkness. No foreseeable future. The tide and the shift of a culture moving in the opposite direction. Nothing going your way. Hopelessness.
Almost all of us, who have gone on trips annually around the sun on this planet know these feelings and circumstances, and some rather intimately. Everyone who is in a similar situation must ask themselves, is this rational thinking in light of what happened? Is this sane and sound?
You see, that Sunday, that day, everything we know about losers and lost situations, about darkness and people who become denizens in it, about hopelessness and the situations surrounding it, on that day, everything is still on the table. All of it. Because on that day, death, hell and the grave had been dealt a death blow. Jesus rose again. In short, in the midst of the worst darkness, light shone out overwhelming all darkness. Everything changed.
The Whispers of Hope
Before the disciples believed, they heard whispers of hope from people that they had earlier thought “not as important as themselves”. The women had come and told them He was alive. Cleopas and his companion said He was alive and walked, talked and broke bread with them.
Imagine when the disciples first encountered Jesus in the upper room. They had stories from others who had seen Him, saw evidence of a disturbed tomb, but they had not yet seen Him. Ever been there, where you don't dare hope and dream? You can feel something arise, deep inside you and you can begin to hope again or set up conditions like Thomas. "Unless I see the wounds, out my fingers into the nail holes and put my hand into His side where the spear was thrust through, I will not believe", that was Thomas' boundary line.
What's yours? What is your boundary line? Because where your boundary line is you will find your quit line also. What are you guarding against being duped by, against what you think is easy believing, really guarding your heart in the guise of guarding your mind? What is keeping you from giving yourself with abandon to what God is saying? It is one thing to believe with the mind and another thing to throw your heart back into believing!
When life springs from a tomb, it is best to throw all the baggage of death into that tomb. Right now, things look bleak and dark. Vast amounts of our culture is rushing headlong into a future of perdition which, if the Bible hadn’t already prophesied it, we would be (and have been called) crazy for even believing it. There is coming a very clear line in these days of increasing darkness that calls for us to believe.
So, what have you given up on? What did you think was so dead that nothing could raise it from the dead? The resurrection changed everything!
And now Jesus calls us to live in the light of that truth.