God Knows…When Things Look Hopeless – Part 2
When Jesus came out of the tomb, shining with the glory of heaven, the soldiers guarding the tomb fainted! They certainly hadn’t expected any action while guarding a corpse. When the soldiers came to, they hurried toward the city. On the way they told everyone they met what they had seen. Before they had a chance to report to Pilate, some very concerned priests and rulers sent for them. The soldiers blurted out what they had witnessed.
Then something strange happened. The very same men who had asked that soldiers watch the tomb so the disciples couldn’t snatch away Christ’s body NOW begged the powerful Roman soldiers to lie and say that the disciples had come while they slept and stole Him away! Reluctantly the soldiers agreed to change their story. They were paid well to do it and were promised no trouble from Pilate.
Of course the true story did spread, for many people had heard the first report of the soldiers as they ran from the scene. But Jesus’ friends, including several women from Galilee, hadn’t heard the news. They dejectedly headed toward the garden where the tomb was. Mary Magdalene was the first to reach the tomb. It was empty! Sadly she rushed off to tell Peter and John. From another direction came several other women. “Who will roll away the stone for us?” they wondered. They had brought more spices to help preserve the body. But when they arrived they found the empty tomb.
A young man in white sat by the tomb. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “Jesus is not here. He is risen! Go quickly. Tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee.” Joyfully the women ran to tell the news.
But the women didn’t cross paths with everyone in time. A very sad and worried Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb with Peter and John. John ran ahead and looked into the tomb. Only folded linen was there. Peter rushed right into the tomb to be sure it was really empty before they returned to Jerusalem.
Mary stayed at the tomb by herself. Then she saw two angels. “Why are you crying?” they asked. “Because they’ve taken away my Lord,” she cried.
Another voice asked her the same question. She replied, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him.” Then this person said her name, and suddenly she recognized the voice of Jesus! She saw before her Jesus, the Son of God, alive again. What great news to share with His friends!
But on the very day Jesus’ followers should have been rejoicing, most of them remained sad. Things still looked hopeless because they didn’t BELIEVE the good news.
Near the end of the day Cleopas and his friend, two of Jesus’ followers, were headed home to Emmaus, a little town about eight miles (13 km) from Jerusalem. They had been in Jerusalem all day. They heard that Jesus’ body had disappeared. They heard the women’s story of seeing angels and Jesus. But they rationalized it as something the women had imagined in their agitation.
Feeling let down and totally hopeless, Cleopas and his friend walked along in gloomy conversation. They hardly noticed when a stranger joined them. “What are you talking about?” He asked.
“You must be the only visitor to Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened,” they replied. Sadly they told of their disappointment regarding Jesus. “We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel,” they said.
“Oh, you foolish men!” exclaimed the Man walking with them. “Wasn’t it necessary for Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then, starting with the beginning of Bible history, the stranger explained the prophecies in Scripture that foretold the story and true mission of Jesus.
It was dark by the time the disciples reached home. “Come, stay with us,” invited the disciples. Their fellow traveler hesitated. When they urged, He went in with them. Soon a simple supper was on the table. As their guest reached out His hands to ask the blessing on the food, the disciples were startled. “Wow,” they thought, “He does it just like Jesus did.” They looked more closely. There were the nail prints! “It is the Lord Jesus!” they exclaimed. “He HAS risen from the dead!”
In an instant, Jesus vanished. But so did their exhaustion and hunger. They left their supper and raced through the darkness back toward Jerusalem. It didn’t matter that the road was steep and rocky. They had good news to tell!
Joy Replaces Gloom
Finally they reached the upper room where the disciples were staying. Still panting, Cleopas and his friend poured out their story. “We just can’t believe it,” said some doubters. Suddenly a familiar-looking person stood among them and said, “Peace to you.” Everyone was frightened! Jesus understood that they disciples were scared that he was a ghost, and asked, “Why are you troubled? Behold My hands and My feet. Touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
Everyone gathered around to see the cruel marks from the nails. They thrilled at the sound of His voice. To convince them even more, Jesus asked for something to eat. As they watched Him eat, they were filled with faith and joy. They were looking at their risen Savior!
Jesus reminded His disciples of His promise to rise again after three days. If they had remembered and believed His promises, they wouldn’t have suffered all day.
. . .
When we have moments or days when things look hopeless, we can save ourselves a lot of suffering, too. We can turn to God’s Word, the Bible, and search out His promises, then put our full weight of faith on them. We can remember that it is always the darkest just before dawn, and that with God all things are possible. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. His wisdom, power, and love are greater than our biggest problems.
Where to find the story: Matthew 27-28, Mark 15-16, Luck 22 and 24, and John 19-20
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