Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 15, 2012

After Easter

 After Easter

I can only imagine the roller coaster of emotions that Jesus’ early followers experienced during the events leading up to His crucifixion, death, and resurrection. At first they experienced great joy as Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the donkey, presenting Himself as the long-awaited Messiah and King. Yet by the end of the week, their joy turned to mourning as they saw their King nailed to a wooden cross. The One who had come to deliver them died and was buried in a tomb. Next, even their mourning gave way to disbelief and fear as their beloved Jesus disappeared from the tomb. But soon their joy returned as they once again saw their Risen Lord! Jesus was alive!

Surely, after Easter we, too, can experience that sense of joy in knowing that our Savior lives. Yet the apostle John records two things that Jesus did after Easter, before He ascended to heaven, that have special meaning to me as a believer today. Through Jesus’ encounter after Easter with two of His disciples, Thomas and Peter, we can learn that Jesus not only conquered death, but that He also gives us victory in life. These two encounters help us better understand this victory we have in Him.

  • We do not have to see to believe.

Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, was not present when Jesus first appeared to the others after His resurrection. When the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus, he told them: “’Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe’” (John 20:25b).

 

So, eight days later, Jesus once again appeared to the disciples while Thomas was present with them. “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands, and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing’” (John 20:27). And then “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

 

Unlike Jesus’ early followers, none of us today have seen Jesus. We did not walk with Him or see His miracles. We did not see Him die on the cross or talk to Him after His resurrection. Yet because of faithful witnesses who recorded these events in the Bible, we can hear and learn about them – and we can believe. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

 

  • While I cannot see God, He still sees me.

While Thomas had not seen Jesus after the resurrection, Jesus saw Thomas. He knew his doubts and made another appearance to meet Thomas’ conditions. Thomas saw and believed. I never cease to be amazed as to how God loves and cares for us even in the midst of our confusion. He doesn’t turn His back on us because we have doubts or because we’re not where He thinks we should be in our Christian walk. Instead, He consistently meets us where we are and through His grace and mercy leads us to where He wants us to be. “….He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3b).

 

  • God doesn’t give up on us even when we fail.

Peter, the disciple who had promised to give his life for Jesus (see John 13:37), had instead denied even knowing Him three times before Jesus was crucified (see John 18-21). He undoubtedly felt both sorrowful and ashamed of his failure to stand up for his Lord. Yet on Jesus’ third appearance to His disciples, He reaches out to Peter, not to berate or condemn him, but to restore him. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Each time Peter confessed his love for Jesus. In response, Jesus gave Him work to do – to feed His lambs and take care of His sheep. Jesus did not give up on Peter because of his previous failure, but forgave Him, and gave him meaningful work to do. He sought Peter’s commitment to be faithful.

 

What Jesus did for Thomas and Peter after Easter, He’s also done for me. Just like Thomas, there have been times in my life when I’ve struggled to believe. I have wished that I could see, receive a sign, truly understand and know. Yet God has used those times to help my unbelief and grow my faith. There have been other times when I’ve been amazed at how God saw me when I couldn’t even see where I was myself, much less see my way to get to Him. Yet God never lost sight of me and where I was. He found me right where I was and just like He did for Thomas, He revealed Himself to me. And then there have been those times, too numerous to count, when I have failed. Yet I’ve learned that as I come to God in my sorrow and shame, and turn my failures over to Him, He meets me, helps me pick up all the pieces of my broken promises and commitments, and restores me to work for Him. He meets my unbelief, my struggles, and my failures with Himself and gives me victory in life – not because of me, but because of Him! This is the joy of living after Easter!

 

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