And he departed from our sight
that we might return to our heart, and there find Him.
For He departed, and behold, He is here.
There is something so triumphant, so miraculous… and if I’m being honest, so UNUSUAL about the events that occurred on that first Easter Sunday. I mean, as Christians, we boldly proclaim ‘HE IS RISEN’ on Resurrection Sunday – confident in this act that is so central to our faith, yet have you ever stopped to think for a moment about how absolutely WILD, and STRANGE, and CONFRONTING it would have been to be a follower of Jesus on that very day?
You don’t have to look much further than John chapter 20, where the Bible tells us that the disciples – Jesus’ closest friends – were huddled inside a home ‘with all the doors and windows locked’ after the death of Jesus.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why they were afraid? I think if you had been there that weekend in Jerusalem – and you too were a follower of Jesus Christ, and you too had just watched your ‘promise,’ your leader, your king, your friend being nailed to a tree – you too would be afraid. Perhaps they hid behind locked doors for fear of what the authorities might do if they found them meeting in the name of Jesus. Or maybe they were fearful of being identified with the supposed criminal who had been violently executed only just a few days before. Maybe Matthew, James, Mark and Peter were afraid of being treated as Jesus was treated – beaten and crucified for being a heretic or a traitor. Could you really blame them?
Just two days before, they had watched as the Son of God was forced, under the bloodiest and most public of circumstances, to march up to Golgotha – a place close enough to the city that everyone came to watch, yet far enough away to cause great pain to the prisoners who were burdened to carry their own cross. Jesus himself marched up there, was mocked, beaten and spit upon before He was murdered – His crown of thorns falling to the ground as He took a final breath.
And they watched. And the tears and sadness we feel now over our Saviour’s death are incomparable to the anguish of His friends that day. For they didn’t know the end of the story…
So when Sunday rolls around and they are sitting in their doubts and questions and fear, Jesus knew. In fact, the Bible tells us that He doesn’t knock on the door in anger or yell at His disciples for living in doubt and fear. Instead, John 20:19 says: “Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
PEACE BE WITH YOU. What a beautiful picture of the God we serve. Peace is a gift from God. Peace is a calmness and quiet even in the midst of danger, discouragement and disillusionment. Jesus’ death, and His resurrection came to give us that peace. Not just then and not just now, but for eternity.
But how many of us, when Easter weekend is all over, will return behind our own locked doors of fear, doubt, guilt, and disbelief? Can I encourage you this Easter weekend, to look around and see the power of the resurrection working daily amongst us. Even though the world is full of injustice and discouragement, disappointment, unrest and lack, if you look for it, you can see the power of Easter, the defeat of death and the kindness of our Saviour working everywhere… restoring marriages, healing sick bodies, meeting needs and filling churches with the lost being welcomed home, finding family and ultimately, finding peace.
The peace and freedom Jesus bought for us through His death and resurrection is not just for one weekend a year on the Christian calendar – it is a way of life. May you truly know this weekend and always, that PEACE is with you.
Behold, He is here.