We are really not in the mood for April Fools. No cruel pranks if you please. Not after what happened on Friday.
The injustice. The brutality of the crucifixion. The ominous, supernatural darkness. The mysterious damage in the Temple. The broken dreams. It’s all been too much already. We don’t need any more stress. The last thing we need is some sick joke about an empty tomb and the body of our Master now missing. Is this some kind of insult being added to injury? Is there no limit to sacrilege?
And yet an empty tomb is what we have – no kidding! The women have reported it, Peter and John verified it – empty tomb, no dead body. If we have no body, no-one laughing and saying ‘April Fool!’, no mention of chocolate eggs or the Easter bunny what do we have in Luke ch 24? What does God’s Word give us on Easter Day?
Well, in order:
We have some wonderful women. Here were some of Jesus’ most devoted disciples. They had followed and supported Him these last three years from He began preaching up in Galilee. On Good Friday these women were the ones daring to stand closest to the cross, most willing to be identified with their Lord in that dangerous environment. They had accompanied Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus as they gave Jesus as decent a burial as possible under the hurried circumstances. They had noted the location of the tomb and they were back at the earliest opportunity to show what love and devotion they could.
Thank God for loyal, faithful women who keep going in the face of this world’s cruelty and heartbreak, who keep on trusting in God and doing what is good in the most challenging of circumstances! Mothers and grandmothers who pray, sisters who encourage, Sunday School teachers, professionals and volunteers of all kinds who lovingly serve without giving up despite the abuse and contempt that is often thrown at them.
Luke 24 gives us the example of these loyal women.
Next we find a couple of upbeat angels who are delighted to announce that Jesus is no longer dead but risen and alive.
These trusting women are rewarded with a glimpse of the heavenly Kingdom which is already rejoicing. Not only has the Son of God atoned for human sin on Friday, He has now conquered death too! We don’t usually see angels but scripture suggests they are never far away, and on occasions like this God commissions these mighty warriors to bring His message to people.
Good news! Don’t look for Jesus or His headstone in a cemetery. You won’t find it, for unlike other prophets or heroes in history our Lord is alive forevermore!
However, next in this chapter we encounter some reluctant men. Jesus actually calls a couple of them “slow” – ‘slow of heart to believe’.
The disciples are defensive, afraid, uncertain of the future, tempted to be sceptical. They might say their hopes for national renewal had been dashed with their Master’s death, but that makes us wonder had they really been listening to what Jesus had been teaching them on the way to Jerusalem.
It’s not hard to understand though how they feel. You probably know people like this, men or women or young people. People who have experienced disappointment and hurt. They are cynical about things when they talk to you, they say they don’t believe in God or religion or anything much these days. They don’t want to believe anymore in case their hopes are built up and dashed again! Perhaps we’ve all felt like this on occasions!
While this attitude is understandable it’s really very self-limiting. New possibilities abound if we dare to believe in what seems unlikely, even impossible. For finally that is what we have in this chapter of God’s Word - Jesus, wonderfully alive!
It’s no joke – He’s real! The tomb is empty and there He is right with them. The two people in Emmaus finally recognise Him when He breaks the bread just like He did at the Last Supper.
Later this same evening He joins the gathering in the Upper Room, eats with them, invites them to touch and affirm that He’s real. And although He gently scolds many of them for their lack of faith, He also greets them with the lovely Hebrew greeting of ‘Shalom’ – ‘peace be with you’.
Now we can know peace and reconciliation with God. Believers have our sins forgiven – Jesus atoned for them at the cross on Good Friday! Now we can experience peace that passes understanding for our Saviour is alive again. He lives and reigns. Death is defeated. We’ve been shown the end of history and it’s good, heavenly for those who trust and follow.
The presence of the risen Lord Jesus is wonderful land reassuring. Anything is possible now.
We should not be surprised when God does something wonderful. He raised Jesus from the dead. And resurrection He shares with all His children.
Remember Scripture. Expect great things. Don’t let hurt or disappointment hinder you. Get ready for the Spirit with His enabling power. Gear up for world evangelisation for this is the Church’s calling! Pray, trust and expect ‘power from on high’. Share with confidence and joy this message first shared on Easter morning by angels.
Our sins have been paid for at Calvary and our Lord is risen triumphant over death. Blessed are those who repent and take refuge in Him!