Jesus asked His 12 a pointed question after washing their feet – “Do you understand what I have done for you?” (Jn 13:12) It is a great question to ask ourselves as we celebrate the Resurrection together.
For the Disciples and most of Israel the reality of “what I have done” was not as vibrant in their minds as their deeply ingrained Messianic hope. Imagine that your sacred writings, poetry, songs, traditions, stories, rituals, and prayers are littered with shadows, clues, prophecies, and pictures of a coming Promise – the Messiah/Christ. And finally it looks like all the pieces to the puzzle are coming together. The fairytale is coming true… He is here!
On what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus makes His big entrance and brings God’s epic story up to a climax in the common man’s heart & mind. In Mt 21:1-10 Jesus intentionally fulfilled prophecy (Zach 9:9; Ps 118:25-27) and identifies Himself as the returning King. And the crowds love it, they understand it and they sing out the royal sound tract. This single act of fulfilled prophecy set off a week of mobs, religious skeptics, politicians, and confused followers trying to figure out “who is this?” Was God’s Big story coming true?
By the end of the week the one whom all hopes are pinned upon, the Hero, Jesus is executed as a common criminal. This is not how the story was supposed to turn out. HOPE is crushed. And the disciples become fearful, faithless, defeated & broken men.
In Luke 24 we see three reason why they couldn’t hold onto hope.
1) LK 24:1-12 Circumstance vs. Hope
The women are fully convinced that Jesus, the HERO, is dead. They come to anoint his body for burial, which in essence is to put the final nail in the coffin. With the death of the Hero, comes the death of Hope. Their circumstances, what they could see, feel, touch, overshadowed their hope. And they are challenged on this by the angles, “Why do you look for the LIVING among the dead?” (v5) There women should have come looking for the LIVING Jesus, not expecting to find a corpse. Why? “…He has risen! Just as he said…” (Mt 28:6)
What about us? Do we trust Circumstances or do we take Jesus at His word?
We are encouraged in Hebrews 11:1-2, “Now faith is being sure of what we HOPE for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” We must hold on to Jesus word, our Hope.
2) LK 24:13-27 Circumstance vs. WORD
Here we get a nice story of Jesus relating, incognito, with two disciples on their way to the village of Emmaus. Jesus lets these broken men vent a bit before rebuking them for not believing the WORD. They the Master walks them through the Scriptures about all that is spoken about Him and what needed to happen. Do we trust Circumstances or do we take the Bible seriously?
3) LK 24:36-45 Circumstance vs. Encounter
By this time the 11 disciples have locked themselves up in a room for fear of the authorities. Those whom Jesus has meet with are relating their new found hope to these broken men. And they simply don’t get it… “He rebuked them for their lack of faith and stubborn refusal to believe..” (Mark 16:14)
It’ not until Jesus comes and they experience Him that a faint glimmer of hope emerges out of the ashes of defeat. How did Jesus open their minds – through letting them encounter Him and imparting the Holy Spirit to them (John 20:22) [remember the promise of 1 Cor 2:10] So the question for us:
Do we trust Circumstances or do we take comfort in Encounters w/ Jesus?
What happens to us when the story doesn’t turn out as we wanted? Your story? marriage? kids? job? church? life? Do we trust our circumstances over Hope, Word, Encounters with Him?
We don’t realize that God is a better Storyteller then we are:
“No eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love HIM” Isaiah 64:6
Hold on to Hope : Enjoy this clip from “Elizabeth: the Golden Age” where the idea of hope & resurrection is related to a journey at sea. And when hope seems dead you hold on, study your charts, and push forward. And in the end hope does keep it’s promise – Resurrection, New Life!