Let me picture a single room on two different occasions.
The first picture: it is an upper room in Jerusalem on the night after Jesus died. A small group of men and women cower behind locked doors. Fear permeates the atmosphere. Look at their faces – dazed, bewildered, dejected, and hopeless. It is a picture of utter defeat. Everything they had hoped for, believed in, and committed to was dead and in the tomb.
The second picture: it is the same upper room in Jerusalem. Seven weeks have passed. The same group meets but they are not hiding behind closed doors. Look as they move out into the street. These people are emboldened with superhuman confidence. Their words ring true and strong. They have a message to share. These people are absolutely fearless and overwhelmingly happy. Their hope, faith, and commitment are tied to a plan to change the world.
How could there be such change? Can it be explained? Yes. Between these two events, something happened – Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen – the evidence convinced thousands! There were people in Jerusalem who wanted nothing better than to destroy the Christian movement. The movement could not be stopped because so many people believed.
Christ is Risen – the disciples were transformed! The change in their lives was not the result of following a myth, but from following, trusting, and knowing the risen Lord who conquered sin, death, and the devil.
Christ is Risen – the followers of Christ continue to believe! Many times and in many cruel and devious ways, individuals and groups have moved to vanquish the followers of Jesus, but even the gates of hell cannot stop God’s people.
Christ is Risen – the gift of God in Christ cannot be confined to a grave! “God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. in a grave” (Acts 2:24). He lives!
A wonderful Easter story comes from the pen of John Masefield* in his play, “The Trial of Jesus.” The play features a telling conversation between a Centurion named Longina who oversaw the crucifixion of Jesus and Lady Procula, the wife of Pilate. Here is the conversation from the play:
Procula to Longina, “Centurion, were you at the killing of that teacher today?”
Longina: “Yes, my lady.”
(She asks for details about his suffering and his final words.)
Procula then asks, “What do you believe the man believed, Centurion?”
Longina: “He believed he was God, they say.”
Procula: “Do you believe it?”
Longina: “We saw a fine young fellow my lady, not past middle age. And he was alone, and he defied all the Jews and all the Romans, and when we had done with him, he was a poor broken-down thing, dead on the cross.”
Procula: “Do you think he is dead?”
Longina: “No, my lady, I do not.”
Procula: “Then where is he?”
Longina: “He is let loose in the world, my lady, where neither Roman nor Jew can stop his truth.”
And I will be with you, day after day, to the end of the age.
*John Masefield was Poet Laureate of Great Britain from 1930-1967. The Trial of Jesus was written in 1925.
Copyright, 2014 © Richard Leslie Parrott