On the day that Jesus rose from the dead, several women went to His grave to properly prepare His body for burial. They were not going to the tomb with anticipation that He might be alive again. They were probably hoping to say one last goodbye.
Two men walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus; despondent and discouraged at all they had witnessed over the preceding days. Along the way they have an encounter with a man who asks them what has happened and He then proceeds to talk about the Law, the Prophets, and how Jesus was their fulfillment. Only they do not realize the man is Jesus until the moment that Jesus leaves.
After hearing the report from the women that the angels said Jesus was alive again and after the two men ran from Emmaus to tell the disciples about their encounter, the disciples still gathered behind a closed door; afraid for their lives.
When Thomas is told by the other apostles that they have seen Jesus, Thomas says he will not believe unless he sees the body himself. He will not believe until he places his fingers in the holes of Jesus’ hands or places his own hand into Jesus’ side.
Loss. Uncertainty. Fear. Doubt.
These are the emotions that accompanied Jesus’ believers into that first Easter Sunday. These emotions were the ones experienced by those closest to Him; those who loved Him the most; those who followed Him the closest.
A far cry from the joy and celebration that exists on Easter Sundays now. And it makes sense. We should be more jubilant now. The grave has been defeated. He has risen. We stand on the testimony of believers for 2000 years who have celebrated this day. We can join with others and sing “He’s alive, He’s alive!”
But we must remember that all of those other emotions sometimes still creep into this day. Because life still happens. We still experience loss. We are still uncertain from time to time the path our life should take. We all have fear at one time or another due to a number of different factors. Many times we still doubt.
The resurrection does not promise us that all those things go away. The resurrection tells us that those things will not have the last word.
The resurrection does not insulate us from difficulties. The resurrection points us in hopeful expectation to the time when those difficulties will not exist.
Today, we celebrated the defeat of sin, death, and the grave. Yet all three still exist.
But they do not have the last word.
For when Jesus exited the tomb, He promised to be with us.
To be with us in the loss; in the uncertainty; in the fear; and in the doubt. To be with us in the joy and celebration. To be with us in the trials and the triumphs.
I showed up at three separate worship assemblies today. I was not like Mary or Cleopas or Peter or Thomas. I was all set to shout and cheer and jump and clap and express as much joy as I could. However, a quick scan of the rooms I was in revealed to me that doubt and uncertainty and fear and doubt were still present.
Although the emotions were not my own, they were present among those I love. Yet still we worshipped a risen Lord. Still we proclaimed that death will not have the final word.
For when Jesus enters, everything changes.