Easter is upon us and as we move through the week leading up to Christ's death and resurrection most of us will think a lot about the burden that was on Him and His suffering on the cross. That's certainly appropriate. But have you ever stopped to think about the twelve Disciples and what that week was like for them? For of bunch of guys that are generally considered heroes of the Christian faith (well, most of them anyway), they had a bad week. They got knocked down hard. It was weakness on display. Not a good look.
Meanwhile, all his disciples deserted him and ran away. (Mark 14:50 NLT)
Twelve men accompanied Jesus throughout his ministry. These twelve men listened to His teaching. They watched Him heal the sick and the blind and the crippled. They watched him feed thousands with only a few loaves of bread and a few fish. They at times even seemed to grasp that he was indeed the Messiah. Yet at the end one of them betrays Him for a few silver coins, they all desert Him at the time of His arrest, and Peter, His appointed Rock, famously denies Him on three separate occasions. And this is all before He is hung on the Cross.
The next time we find the disciples all together (most of them anyway), is after Christ has died. They're down a man, their Teacher is dead, and they are "behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders..." (John 20:19 NLT).
I think it's safe to say that the actions of the disciples during Holy Week were not the actions of fearless, confident, men who were poised to change the world. Yet that is exactly what they went on to do. How did that happen?
Then the angel spoke to the women. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn't here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen." Matthew 28:5-6 (NLT)
When the women in the passage above went back to the disciples and told them what happened, Luke tells us (24:11) that the story sounded to them like non-sense, and they didn't believe it. It wasn't until Jesus was standing among them that they believed he was alive, raised from the dead.
Sometimes I'm a lot like the disciples locked in that room. I get scared and my faith waivers. And I want something to reaffirm it. It's reassuring to know that even those who lived with Him daily had their own doubts and fears, and also needed something to reaffirm their faith.
For me, one of the most convincing arguments for Christ is the change I see in peoples' lives when they find Him and accept Him. I find the same to be true regarding the disciples. The change in the disciples from the uncertainty evident at the end of the Gospels to the boldness we see at the beginning of the book of Acts is one of the most convincing arguments I can find that Christ did indeed rise, and is still alive. We like to talk about Christ dying for our sins. We proudly proclaim our sins forgiven through His death on the Cross. That's great. Certainly it is. His death was necessary, but it would mean nothing without His resurrection. If He stays in that tomb Christianity doesn't exist today because those 11 guys locked in that room never come out.
The good news is that He didn't stay in that tomb. And because He got back up, the Disciples got back up. He rose from the dead and they rose to the challenge of changing the world with a message of hope and love. So I challenge you: this Easter take a minute to look at the things in life that have knocked you down. Confront your weakness. And then get back up. That same power that drove the Disciples (we call it the Holy Spirit) is available to you and I as well. It's there because Christ is alive.
So celebrate His Resurrection this Easter. And honor his sacrifice by accepting not only His gifts of Grace and Forgiveness, but also his gift of Power to change the world around you.
Rejoice, Christ is Risen indeed!
...those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
Contributed by Blue Brawner.