Today is the start of the Easter week-end. It’s a time of great reflection for the Christian as one recalls just what Jesus did for each of us on the the cross over 2000 years ago. For me, as I recall what Jesus did, my mind also thinks upon the disciples. I try to imagine what they must have felt as events unfolded before them. You and I know the story well — we know what comes next. The disciples didn’t have a clue.
Imagine the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. There was Jesus riding on a donkey with throngs of happy people shouting out their praises to Him. Can’t you imagine how proud and happy the disciples were, too? Their faces must have been aching with the smiles that accompanied their glad hearts.
Then events take a sudden and unexpected turn. They all meet with Jesus to celebrate the Passover meal together. Jesus begins talking of one who will betray Him. What? Surely not. Then Judas leaves the meal. What’s going on? The others assure Jesus that they would never betray Him. Then, of all things, Jesus turns to Peter and accuses him! Jesus tells Peter that before daybreak, before the rooster crows, Peter will already have denied he ever knew Jesus, not once, but three times! What? Preposterous! They had had such a joyful day with the people cheering Jesus on. Everyone was in high spirits. Why was Jesus now putting such damper on the occasion?
Then Jesus asks them to accompany Him across the Kidron valley. They enter a grove of olive trees and Jesus begins to pray. He wants them to pray with him but surely Jesus can understand — they’ve had a highly emotional day. They’re exhausted. Why can’t Jesus understand that it’s better to sleep for now? Why couldn’t Jesus stay within the spirit of the great joy they have all experienced?
Suddenly, coming out of the blackness of night, a band of soldiers come, arrest Jesus and take Him away. What? How could this be? What was happening? Wait! Maybe Jesus was going to set up His kingdom now. Yes! That was it! He’s going to overthrow the Roman government and set them all free from its tyranny!
But, no. What was happening? Jesus whipped unmercifully. Men and women mulling about chattering incessantly about what was taking place. The joy of Jesus’ triumphal entry was now replaced with abject terror. Peter denied he knew Jesus. The rooster crowed. Jesus enters carrying a ruggedly hewn cross on his bleeding back.
The disciples watch Him suffer in agony and they watch Him die. That’s it then. The end of their hopes and dreams. There would be no new kingdom. There would be nothing at all. Jesus was dead. Can you picture and imagine their anguish?
Can you then imagine their immeasurable joy when it turns out that Jesus is alive? The stone to His tomb has been rolled away. He isn’t there! He has conquered death! He has risen from the dead!
Have you ever felt like the disciples must have felt in the situation of that week-end when tragedy struck unexpectedly? Have you ever felt let down by the promises of Jesus that haven’t yet come true? Have you endured the pain of hopes and dreams slipping away? The despair that fills your mind when you have no new plan to follow?
May I encourage you this week-end to take heart — choose to trust Jesus for the bigger picture. Remember, you and I can only see today, while Jesus knows the beginning from the end. He holds time in His hands. He does all things well — always.
Have your dreams died? Hope gone? Are you drowning in despair? Look to Jesus and watch Him roll the stone of desolation away. Watch Him revive lost hope. Walk with Him as He fulfills His promises to you in just the right time. He is never too early — He is never too late. The plans for your life and mine unfold at exactly the right moment.
As you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, may you also celebrate His joy that comes after tragedy and despair. It’s a promise. “…weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5