Even though Jesus told His disciples, friends, and family that He would return, I don’t think any words could have comforted those who witnessed His death. Can you imagine being there when that happened – being witness to such a tragedy?
Jesus’ disciples had followed Him around for years, being inspired by His words and His actions, being a part of miracles, healings, and conversions of people to God. Then their world was shattered before their eyes by others who were afraid of this man. (So afraid, in fact, that those who crucified Him posted guards at His tomb to be sure He didn’t come back like He said He was going to.)
Jesus told His followers not to be sad or afraid because this was all part of a bigger plan. But, what kind of plan could it have been to have had your friend, mentor, and confidant tortured and killed right before your eyes?
Not only were they losing a friend, the disciples had a bigger problem: the man they believed was the Messiah was being killed. They were confused and scared. Their world was being turned upside down by His death. How could the Messiah die in such a way? Was it possible that He was not who they all thought He was? (I am sure we have all heard the term “doubting Thomas” – Thomas was one of Jesus’ disciples who wasn’t sure.)
As I said, at that moment what a tragedy this must have seemed to those who were a part of it.
For the next couple of days, His friends and family must have felt sick.
Three days later, still probably in a state of shock, some of His friends and family went back to visit the tomb that He lie in. On their way there, an angel told them of Jesus’ resurrection. They ran to the tomb to see for themselves and along their way Jesus appeared to them.
They went about and told each other what had happened – that Jesus came back to them. That he had risen from the dead.
Hearts that were broken were now healed and overjoyed! Dark sadness was replaced by the light of God’s love.
What a moment of triumph! Triumph over death. Triumph over evil. Triumph over sin.
The disciples, some of who were to become apostles, started spreading the word of Jesus. Their doubt and fear was erased and they became so filled with the knowledge that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and the Messiah that they began to preach the Good News.
The love of God through Jesus started to spread. Christianity was born!
How quickly tragedy can turn to triumph.
Just as it happened with the disciples, it is only human nature to get stuck in the moment feeling the world turn against us. We get filled with doubt, confusion, and fear. It is because of this that we can’t see beyond the moment of the tragedy.
Didn’t Jesus tell His friends and family that He would be back? Didn’t he tell them not to worry?
If only the disciples had trusted Jesus’ word that He would be back.
It took Jesus turning the tragedy of His crucifixion into the triumph of His resurrection for the disciples to really, really believe that He WAS the Messiah and trust and believe in what He told them.
Once that happened, their faith was unshakeable. So much so that many of them were themselves martyred for their beliefs and teaching.
They needed to witness Jesus’ death and resurrection before they could also come to the point of understanding how tragedy can be turned into triumph.
We, too, through the death and resurrection have witnessed tragedy turning to triumph. We don’t need for Jesus to die and be resurrected again to prove to us that He is the Son of God. It has already happened.
One of the main things we should learn from this is for us to not be “doubting Thomas’.” That we should trust in what God tells us. Jesus told His disciples He would be back. They were scared and did doubt. Nonetheless, He came back.
All throughout the Bible, God tells us to trust Him:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1 (NIV)
(I am sure you can find many more Bible passages that say the same.)
Isn’t that the message we should have for ourselves in our daily lives – to trust God?
God tells us all to put our faith in Him. He tells us that if we trust in Him that no harm will come to us.
If we truly believe that everything happens for a reason and everything that does happen has a God given purpose then shouldn’t we learn that all of our tragedies will also turn into magnificent triumphs?
Happy Easter everyone! – Elmer Laydon