by Seattle ALC
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an accepted historical fact. His resurrection is the testimony of the ages, and on it rests the hope of the Christian church and the world as a whole.
Jesus told his disciples that he would be crucified, but that he would rise again from the dead on the third day. In speaking to them, Jesus said: “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father” (John 16:16). The disciples questioned this saying among themselves. Knowing that they were unable to understand the meaning of His words, the Lord continued by saying to them: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:20-22).
Using the likeness of natural birth, Jesus explained what effect his forthcoming sufferings, death and resurrection would have on them. By means of these experiences they would come to know that this difficult part of his ministry was not something that he did not anticipate when he came into the world. He explained that no one took his life from him, but that he had the power to lay it down and the power to take it again (John10:18).
The hearts of the disciples were filled with sorrow when they saw their Master apprehended, condemned, crucified and laid in the tomb. Their hopes were dashed to pieces. While the enemies of Jesus rejoiced over his death, the disciples wept—not only over his death, but also over their unfaithfulness—for they had all forsaken him and fled; they had all denied him. The shepherd had been smitten and the sheep scattered (Zech. 13:7).
They endured this sorrow and hopelessness not only on the day of crucifixion, but also through the sabbath day that followed. Although Peter and John had received the Lord’s message from Mary Magdalene and had seen the empty tomb, their fears were not lifted and their sorrow was not turned into joy until the Lord came through the closed doors and greeted them with peace and showed them his hands and his side.
Jesus went on to tell them: “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. ”Then he opened their understanding that they might understand the scriptures. And said unto them, “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead on the third day. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:44-48).
Having gone through the new birth themselves and being empowered with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the disciples were ready to share the gospel message which they had experienced. They were risen with Christ as Apostle Peter so powerfully declared when he wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3).
Although the resurrection of Jesus Christ remains an established truth celebrated by millions of people in our world, it is only the experience of his redemptive work in our hearts that enables us who live today to know the joy that the disciples did when Jesus greeted them with peace. Joy and peace are found in Jesus Christ and become ours when we hear and believe his word: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
From the archives of the late Pastor Alvin C. Holmgren April 2007
Submitted by Pastor Stan