These past few days we have been thanking Jesus for His death and resurrection on our behalf. We have moved through the darkness of the trial and crucifixion and into the light and glory of His victory as He burst out of the tomb on the third day. From that day, for quite a few weeks before His ascension, He showed Himself many times and in many different places to His followers, and I believe He must have so loved this part of what we now call ‘the Easter Story’.
How wonderful for Jesus to see the incredulity and the delight on those faces that had been so bewildered and sad. They were the faces of the followers He dearly loved, friends who had walked along side Him for three years. He had tried to explain it all to them at the last supper, but they had been unable to comprehend what was about to happen, and had understandably been devastated by the events that took place.
Jesus demonstrated such kindness by appearing to them and coming among them during that time. I’m surmising that He could have just risen from the dead, left an empty tomb and then just ascended to His Father, leaving the disciples to work out in some mystical way that He was alive and in heaven, and that now they were to carry on with His mission with the help of the Holy Spirit. It could have been like that, but no! He let them see Him, let those who needed to touch His wounds. He ate with them and taught them and explained so much to them in those days before He ascended.
I think they must have laughed a lot together at His wonderful victory over death itself. They probably cried a little too. I love it that Jesus just turned up unexpectedly, albeit purposefully, on various occasions and in different situations. I am so glad that some of these moments were recorded for us, and that we can savour them through the written word. The main record of these appearances is in the last two chapters of John’s gospel, and in John’s recounting we can see how personal and meaningful those encounters were to different individuals.
Certainly there were some very tender moments and some, like Peter, were restored from their sense of abject failure and given a fresh commissioning and fresh hope. To the grieving Mary He just spoke her name, that was enough. To the confused friends He met on the road to Emmaus He gave explanation. To the doubting Thomas He gave the encounter and the touch that He needed in order to believe. And to the hungry and tired fishermen, who’d caught nothing, He gave a miraculous catch of fish and a welcome breakfast.
So today, let us thank the Lord that He rose from the dead, and that He then revealed more of Himself through those post resurrection encounters. Let our thanksgiving fire our own faith that, when we are confused or bewildered, when we have messed up or are even feeling abandoned by the Lord, there will be a resurrection moment and a time when He will reveal Himself to us more clearly. So often our personal ‘faith’ breakthroughs come through some kind of death and resurrection experience.
He doesn’t have to, but He does come to us, like He did to the disciples, making Himself known to us in unexpected ways and sometimes in unusual places. Sometimes He explains to us what He is doing in our lives and sometimes He doesn’t need to as He holds us like a child and comforts us with His presence.
We have a God who has defeated death, and a God who called Himself the Light of the world, the Light that no darkness from satan could overcome, and as we keep thanking Him for that wonderful victory on Calvary, we will grow in our faith that the Jesus who revealed Himself to His followers with such kindness, will show Himself to us when we are in need of ‘seeing’ Him in order to believe for ourselves.