Speechless, however, is exactly how the followers of Jesus found themselves on the morning of that third day.
It’s also where I find myself now.
I’ve written for weeks on varying stages and aspects of Christ’s journey to the cross. And now, today, we celebrate the anniversary of the day He rose from the dead, and I am at a loss for what to say about it. It’s nice, as I look back, to know I’m not the only one.
I listen to my fellow believers reflect on this season with varying degrees of awe, thankfulness, and joy. All I can think about, however, as I go back and read over the accounts of the actual Resurrection, is how dumbstruck the core group of disciples was.
Why was this? Jesus had warned them often enough in the weeks beforehand that His death would take place. “And on the third day, I will be raised.”
In the shock of witnessing his death—which surely was more awful than they dreamed possible—did they not believe the last thing would come to pass?
The women believed, and bursting with joy, ran to share the news, although it’s clear that Mary Magdalene struggled at first with the believing.
There were other hints that this particular plot twist was coming. The raising of Jairus’ daughter, the raising of the unnamed young man being carried away to his burial, the raising of Lazarus. Yet, it seems the disciples were tempted to believe the taunts above all else—“He who saved others is unable to save Himself.”
But—no. Oh no. He was more than able, just not in the way they expected.
I wonder, too, what the eventual state of belief was for those hapless guards left to keep watch over the tomb. They saw the angels. They knew the disciples hadn’t come and stolen the body. They were there to prevent that very thing, and yet afterwards they were paid off—by the Pharisees and chief priests, no less, not even Pilate himself—to say that very thing happened, after all. The irony!
When I reflect on the Resurrection of Jesus itself, words like glorious and awesome come to mind ... but we all say that, in our time. What about how it appeared to His original followers, and to those guards?
Even now, people struggle to believe. Is it any wonder the rest of the world shakes its head at us, these crazy Christians who insist that there really was a literal resurrection?
And yet, on this hangs all of our faith. Not the value of Jesus as a good teacher, but as the Son of God and the Son of Man, perfect humanity offered up to die on our behalf, then risen again to life. The One who cracked death wide open, as the tomb was opened during that earthquake long ago.
May I walk today—and the rest of my days—living out the conviction that my lips speak. And may I ever be speechless before Him—but not in giving others an answer for what I believe.
1 Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53)
1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. (Matthew 28, all NKJV)
This post first appeared 4/20/14.