The devastation and disappointment of their friend’s death must have been more than they could bear. The confusion. The disbelief and feelings of despair had to be overpowering. After all that Jesus had told them and had been to them and now, he was dead. On top of that, the shame they felt for having scattered and left Jesus to preserve their own lives must have sealed their feelings of doom with utter hopelessness.
The disciples had walked and lived with Jesus for three years. Slept with him, ate with him and walked miles with him. He taught them to pray, gave them opportunities to minister and allowed them to look into the mysteries of his Father’s kingdom.
They watched him perform miracles and love people as well as witnessed his zeal for his Father’s house as he turned over the tables of the money changers. They had seen every aspect of his personality and his heart.
They knew Jesus and he knew them. That’s the part I think would have felt most empty to me in that moment. That this God, who had called them “friend” knew them. Called them by name and received them to himself just as they were.
And now they were without him. Without that friendship, that communion.
I remember the day my sister died suddenly. She was 52 and suffered complications from diabetes. It was a devastating blow to our family and still, to this day ,seems so unreal. After four years, there are times where I still can’t believe that she’s gone. But the emptiness in my soul where she used to be, bears it out. She is gone. She was my best friend and older sister and she took care of me a lot when we were kids. She knew me like no one else and I took great comfort in that over the years. Yes! I have the promise that I will see her again in heaven which does bring some consolation, but the loss, no matter how much time goes by, is still very deep.
Here were the disciples. Feeling abandoned and all they knew as certain, was gone. Their Hope, buried in a tomb with a huge stone rolled over it. His promises fell silent and empty as the reality of his death mocked everything he ever told them. What would they do? They resolved that it was over. That all was lost. They wept and were terribly grieved.
Okay, let’s put ourselves in their place. Wouldn’t we have felt the same? Oh, we look back and think, “I wouldn’t have left Jesus. I would have believed no matter what”. We only say that because of how far removed we are from the situation. But what about the times now, when we don’t believe? When life becomes so disappointing that we can’t see straight, much less believe. When we are feeling the pressure of life, just like they were and we fold. Suffice it to say, we would have reacted the same way and deemed it rightfully so.
But in the depths of their questions and despair. In their darkest night of wondering what they would do now. In their concession to go back to their old lives and start all over. In the midst of the grief and sorrow now consuming their souls..Love walked into the room!
Imagine their faces. Just imagine that moment. Thomas, as we know, doubted. But all were in doubt, he was just grieved enough to express his. Although Jesus rebuked them at first for their unbelief, he stretched out his hands to Thomas and invited him to touch his wounds. Even in their unbelief, Jesus still confirmed himself to his disciples like he had done countless times before. He was always longsuffering with their humanity. He was always showing them the way. Over and over and over. Such a merciful Savior. Such a beautiful Redeemer.
So, what’s the point? I’m not sure. Given that it’s Easter, my heart was taking time to ponder the moment. Just musing over what it must have been like. The disciples’ grief. Savoring the patience of Jesus. To soothe, encourage and challenge us to believe. To see. To trust. To run with the reality of who he is. Who he will always be. Never changing. Never a shadow of turning. Never defeated. Sure. Immovable. Steadfast. Conqueror! Mighty! King! Lord! Majestic! All Mighty! All Powerful! All loving, forgiving and merciful!
I’m convinced that he is still calling us to believe. Inviting us to touch his wounds and know that by them, we are healed. Deeper still, he is calling us friend. To come commune with him and experience the fellowship that his death and resurrection provides. To be reconciled to the Father’s heart and know him. This, my friend, is the whole and inclusion of all his longing and provision of the cross.
Photo credits: SON OF GOD, the Movie