Early on Sunday morning the disciples were huddled together. John and James probably talking in hushed tones. Peter may have been sitting by the window, his hand pulling at his beard, searching for answers. They were all there except Thomas…and Judas. Mary and Martha had left before sunrise to anoint Jesus’ body.
Somber emotions. Long sighs. Anxious pacing. Forlorn looks. Exclamations under breath… “how could this happen?” and “I didn’t see this coming” and “now what?” The mood in the room was more like a wake than it was a room of disciples hopeful that the Messiah would come awake, as He had promised. It was as if they’d forgotten that part altogether.
Then, suddenly a banging at the door. Everyone tenses up. No one speaks. Andrew motions for everyone to be quiet. Peter shutters the window and walks to the door. Nerves are on edge. “Who is it?”
“It’s us!” Mary says. She can hardly get the words out. She can’t contain herself. The door opens, she bursts inside.
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they’ve taken him!”
Even before she can get the words out, Peter and John are racing to the tomb. They are a blur, tunics everywhere, stumbling over rocks and ruts. Their hearts are racing. A million emotions at once. John gets there first but stops short of the tomb. He reaches down and picks up a scrap of cloth. It reeks of myrrh. Burial cloth.
Peter is already inside the tomb, looking, turning over stones. He finds the other grave clothes. But he doesn’t find Jesus. Maybe in those moments Peter and John believed the best, that a miracle had happened, as Jesus said it would. Or maybe, like you and me, they allowed doubt and fear to creep in. Maybe someone stole the body. Maybe the Sanhedrin were setting them up. First Jesus, then His disciples.
They close the door behind them. The other disciples were anxious to know more. Mary kept going on, saying that Jesus was alive. John was holding her, calming her, like you would a delirious loved one. Peter was pacing again, double-checking the sword at his side. He’d used it once this week and wasn’t afraid to use it again. Fear had doubled down on the group. Doubt was desperately setting it’s claws in. A few of the disciples were packing their bags to leave. The party was over. Things were falling apart.
And then, He was there.
Literally out of nowhere, Jesus appeared, as He does, in the midst of our doubt and our fear. When we feel like our backs are against the ropes and the enemy is coming in for a final sucker punch. When our hope has drained out and all we want to do is run.
He appeared and said, “Peace be with you.” Think about that for a moment. I think sort of shows us His sense of humor. He could have knocked, given them a warning, greased the skids a bit. I mean, this was a big one. He had risen from the dead. And not like Lazarus who was sick and then died. Jesus was dead dead. Beaten, bruised, crucified. Everyone saw it. But instead of warning them, He chose to appear out of thin air.
The room had to be a combination of big eyes and dropped jaws and then smiles and laughter and then soldier-coming-home kind of hugs. Jesus was there. He had come back to make all things right again. He had kept His promise. Of course He had. How could we have ever thought otherwise?
But we do. We know that Jesus has promised to bring us life and yet, we pace and wonder and allow fear and doubt to creep in.
Will my son ever come home?
Will our lives ever return to “normal?”
Will we ever get over this financial hump?
Will I ever be able to shake this loneliness?
Listen. Do you hear that?
There’s a banging at the door of your heart. It might be the voice of a loved one or a friend. They are telling you that Jesus is alive. That He has returned to crush the power of the evil one. Trust them. Run with them and see. Find the empty grave. See that He is alive. His promises are true. Not always the way we want and not always when we want, but He’s always faithful.
Give thanks. Have hope. Trust Him. You never know when He’ll show up out of nowhere and change everything.