The disciples were in hiding. The most agonizing day in their lives happened three days ago on the eve of Passover.
It was a day like no other. When Jesus died, the ground shook, the sun was swallowed up in a furious black sky. It was said that the great curtain in the temple, some thirty feet high and four inches thick, was torn from top to bottom, a feat no man could do. Many said that even graves were opened and the dead were seen walking around. (Matthew 27:51-53)
The disciples were afraid that they too would be arrested, and most certainly put to death in the same manner as they had seen done to their Lord.
Surely they talked about Jesus. They spoke in hushed tones of the authority by which Jesus ministered to people in the three years that they had lived together with him. And the things they had seen! The Apostle John tells us that all the books in the world could not contain everything that he said and did. Most certainly, they talked of the raising of their friend Lazurus after he had been dead for three days. Someone may have wondered aloud why he could not save himself. As they discussed all the things they had heard him say and do, they all had to wonder what it had all meant.
Now that he was gone, where were they to go? What should they do? They couldn’t brave being out in the open by returning to their jobs, for they feared that would make them easier to find. Even their families were in jeopardy if they returned.
There was a pounding at the door. The disciples shrank back in fear. But it was only Mary. As she burst in the room, she seemed bewildered and agitated.
“The stone is rolled away, and the grave is empty! Someone has taken our Lord and I know not where they have laid him.”
Silence was shattered as the disciples leaped to their feet, speaking all at once. It may have gone something like this:
“Impossible! Who would do such a thing?”
“We are all together and we didn’t do it!”
“You are dreaming!”
“Your grieving has made you crazy!”
But John and Peter looked at each other. Neither spoke. They broke into a run. Racing each other to the tomb, they found the answer they had been seeking. As they observed the empty grave clothes, they began to remember the things he had told him the last few weeks he was alive. The scriptures say they went away, marveling at what had happened.
For the next forty days, Jesus appeared to the disciples and to many others. With each appearing, a refrain began to appear; He is Risen! He went so far as to invite Thomas to touch his hands and side to prove that it was he.
At his last appearing, he gave them his final instructions, giving them purpose and a future. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matthew 28: 16-20 NIV)
As he rose from their sight, the stunning truth penetrated their souls. Nevermore alone! No more to fear! These final words gave them comfort and peace. They wondered no more what it was they should do with the rest of their lives.
The eleven who had hid themselves now spoke boldly. Those who had cringed in fear of death went to their own deaths proclaiming the gospel. Never again did they hide or turn away from speaking the truth.
It was a life-changing truth that could not be silenced.
And it has made all the difference.
He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!