The resurrection

I imagine there was a great deal of commotion and confusion in that upper room that day. There was the lingering sorrow and trauma of Jesus having been crucified and buried less than 48 hours earlier, the grief that brought. And yet there was a strange, unlikely hope which was slowly blooming as the story was told again. And again. It had started with Mary, who said Jesus had appeared to her in the garden that morning. At first, she hadn’t recognized Him, but then… She knew He was alive. And then there was Simon Peter, who had burst into the gathering late and pronounced that he, too, had seen the Lord. And he knew that He was alive. Then more women stepped forward and corroborated the account. And then two who had left earlier in the day for Emmaus came in yelling and laughing. And panting. And the same story was repeated again. And with each repetition, it seemed just a bit more real. And then, as the men who had just run all the way back from Emmaus finished telling their story, they were all shocked by that familiar voice. “Peace be with you,” Jesus said, abruptly just there.

Luke 24:36 tells us that the disciples “were startled and terrified” when Jesus appeared out of nowhere. Luke adds that “they… thought they were seeing a ghost.” And I don’t think I can really blame them. But then Jesus spoke again, asking them why they were so scared and offering His hands and feet and side as proof that it was really Him. He was no ghost.

No, Jesus was really alive. Again. And in a hearbeat, the whole of history was changed. But it all started with the eleven and others gathered there that night. And the transition was, indeed, profound.

Luke 24:41, just five verses after we’re told they were “startled and terrified,” we read, “they still were amazed and unbelieving because of their joy.” Startled became amazed. Terrified became astounded disbelief. And then there was joy.

The truth of Jesus’ resurrection should be, in and of itself, grounds for joy. It is the single greatest revolution in the history of the universe. In that instant, the problem of sin and the plight of man went from hopeless to hopeful. The grave and the plague could be conquered. Jesus did it, and so can I.

I have found myself drawn to this statement for the better part of a week now, and every time I revisit it, I keep coming back to a simple realization: I should not need stuff or money or people or anything else to have joy in my life. Simply embracing the truth of the gospel message – that Jesus has defeated death and offered me a chance to do the same simply by believing (and following) in Him – is more than enough reason for joy!

And what’s more, it’s not just a fantasy or fairy tale! A pipe dream could not have so radically impacted the eleven apostles and assorted others gathered in the upper room that night. No, this was – this is – real. And because of that, I should – indeed, must – rejoice.

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