Normally Easter is one of my favourite times of the year.
It’s getting warmer, the flowers are blooming, and the days are longer and brighter. We’re finally moving out of the dark of winter, and it sets the scene perfectly to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and rejoice in his victory over death and darkness.
I haven’t been feeling it so much this year. When we marked last Easter in lockdown, I would never have dreamed that we’d still be here a year on. And, while there is definitely hope on the horizon now, hope has given way to disappointment so many times in the last year that part of me struggles to trust it. I’m weary, and I know I’m not the only one.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to write today. Words haven’t been coming easily lately. But then we had our church Easter service today, and as I listened and later reflected further on what I had heard, I was encouraged, and I think this may bring hope to others too.
Our pastor helped us to consider the different characters we meet in Jesus’ resurrection encounters:
There were the women who walked to the tomb, mourning and consumed by grief. Their beloved friend was dead and buried, and it seemed like the end.
There was Peter, full of bitter regret after denying Jesus three times. It was too late now, and there was nothing he could do. He was stuck in that place of guilt and shame.
There was Thomas – stubborn and doubting. Unwilling to believe others’ assurances they had met with the risen Jesus, he maintained he would only believe if he saw for himself.
And then there were the disciples on the road to Emmaus – walking home defeated and full of despair. Jesus was gone and it seemed that there was no hope.
None of Jesus’ followers was in a great emotional state, and yet it was into each of these circumstances that the risen Jesus came – meeting them in their grief and pain, their shame and regret, their doubt and disbelief, their despair and hopelessness.
He appeared to the women and showed them that he was alive! He had overcome death, and their grief was turned to joy!
He talked with Peter, restoring and reinstating him, removing his shame and calling him to witness.
He met with Thomas face-to-face, giving him the reassurance he need to cast aside his doubts and to believe.
He walked alongside the disciples on the road, teaching them, and eventually helping them to see the truth. Jesus had not been defeated and neither had God’s plan. There was every reason for hope.
It seems, from what the Bible tells us, that most of what Jesus did after his resurrection was coming alongside his followers in their various forms of pain and brokenness and giving them hope.
And that’s the same risen Jesus who is still alive today!
None of his followers expected Jesus to show up in the way that he did. All of them were surprised by him, but he knew exactly what each of them needed, and he drew close bringing hope and transformation.
What do you need today? Where do you feel weary or broken or lacking in hope? Why not bring it to Jesus and allow him to draw close to you?
Maybe he’ll surprise you too!