Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 22, 2011

The Unbelief of Easter

The Unbelief of Easter

At Easter time believers rejoice over the wonder of Christ’s victory over sin and death. They talk about the hope, wonder, and joy of Easter. But early on that very first Easter morning and throughout much of that pinch me I’m dreaming kind of day, those closest to Jesus were confused. They really didn’t know what to believe. Instead of joy and wonder, they mourned and wept. Many of them were fearful and afraid. The Scriptures tell us that upon discovering the stone rolled away and encountering the angel, Mary Magdalene and the other women “were alarmed.” “So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed.” (See Mark 16:1-8.) Even Jesus’ closest disciples didn’t believe when the women returned from the tomb and reported what had happened. “And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11). Neither did they believe the report of the two disciples that Jesus appeared to later that day. “And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either” (Mark 16:13).

Who can blame them for their fear and unbelief? They had watched their beloved leader die on the cross. Some of them had even helped take his lifeless body from the cross and place it in the tomb. The disciples were actually hiding in fear afraid of what the Jews might do to them, Jesus’ followers. Now the stone was rolled away and Jesus’ body was gone. Had someone taken Him? Was this some kind of trick, some master plan? What was going on? Then reports begin to surface from others who declared they had seen Him, resurrected, walking and talking. But this was not possible! Men don’t die, then live again – or do they?

But then in the midst of their fear and unbelief, Jesus appeared to His disciples where they were hiding. John tells it best: “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:19-20). Now they believed like Mary who first saw Jesus and believed (see John 20:18). They believed like John who ran with Peter to the tomb, saw the empty tomb, and believed (see John 20:8). They believed like the two disciples Jesus appeared to on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:33-35). Jesus appeared to them, spoke peace to their hearts – and they believed.

It wasn’t an easy belief. Luke 24:41 explains that “they still did not believe for joy, and marveled.” It was beyond their comprehension. Yet Jesus patiently showed them He was not just a spirit but a resurrected body – even eating a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb. He reminded them of all He had taught them and how He was fulfilling the law and the prophets, the very plan of God.

At last, as the disciples encountered the risen Jesus, they believed. Their mourning turned to joy, resurrection power replaced their fear, and peace overcame their confusion. Finally, the disciples knew the wonder, joy, and hope of Easter.

Sometimes we are just like Jesus’ disciples on that first Easter. We’re comfortable with the Jesus we know or the Jesus we’ve made Him to be. We may become fearful and confused when we lose sight of Him because He’s not where we think He should be or perhaps He’s not working things out the way we think He should. But the risen Christ is beyond anything we can think or imagine. He still performs miracles and makes the impossible a reality. The question is do we really believe Him. Do we really believe that he is the perfect, sinless Son of God? Do we really believe that He took our sins, suffered and died in our place on the cross? Do we really believe that He arose from the grave and that He is alive, seated beside the Father in Heaven? Do we really believe that He can do the impossible? Jesus stated in Mark 9:23: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

This Easter, let’s trade in unbelief for belief and like the disciples on that very first Easter, may we, too, know the wonder, joy, and hope of Easter – because we believe!

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

(John 11:25-26).

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