Sunday brought joy

Published 5:43 pm Saturday, April 4, 2015

By Saturday, the disciples were wondering what was to come next. On Friday, only one of them — the one described in the Book of John as “the disciple Jesus loved” — had been there to watch his friend and Savior die on that cross. The others had been too frightened of their association with Jesus to be seen at His crucifixion.

By Saturday, the news would have reached them of His death. The normally joyous time of the Passover celebration, marking the rescue of the Jewish people from the bondage of Egypt, would have been marred by mourning and sorrow this year.

Jesus had promised He would lead a new kingdom. How could He do that if He was dead? What hope could there be in the news the disciples had received of their teacher’s torture, of His ignominious apparent end on the cross?

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Now, the 11 remaining disciples were outcasts — rabble rousers, by the Romans’ account, and blasphemers, by the reckoning of the Jewish leaders. What place did they have now? What hope did they have? How could they reconcile the teachings of Jesus about love and redemption with the terrible way He had died?

But they had forgotten one of Jesus’ most important lessons. He’d told them He would conquer death, but they had not understood, and in the midst of their sorrow — and, maybe, their self pity — they had forgotten the promise.

They were focused on Friday, as most of us would have been.

But — with apologies to the late Baptist minister S.M. Lockridge, Sunday was comin’.

Sunday would bring the empty tomb.

Sunday would bring angels asking Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

Sunday would bring the risen Savior into the midst of His disciples, huddling in secret away from the people they figured would be looking for them next. On Sunday, He appeared within their midst and said something that was both mundane and incredible: “Shalom aleichem,” or “Peace be upon you.”

The traditional Hebrew greeting, in this case, was fraught with meaning.

Jesus had conquered death to bring peace to those who would follow Him.

On Friday, Jesus had bought that peace with His life. But on Sunday, he gave His followers hope. By conquering death, He had proved He was who He said he was, He had proved He could do what He said He would do, and He had opened the door to true freedom for those who would follow Him.

That would have been enough for a broken and sinful world.

But on Sunday, He gave His followers real hope, the certain knowledge that they who believe in Him and follow Him will one day be with Him eternally.

Friday had its sorrow. But Sunday brought joy.