Summary: What would the disciples do with the absence of their Lord? What would they do now? Yet, on that first Easter, the question was asked and the answers given over a period of time have changed the world. The question is for us today, "What now, disciple?
WHAT NOW, DISCIPLES?
I. THE DARKNESS: *
Ii. THE DELIGHTS: **
III. THE DIRECTIONS: ***
If we could somehow go back in time and ask the disciples what were their thoughts on that Easter morning, one would no doubt have jumbled answers to the question. There were just too many emotions felt by these followers of Jesus to adequately explain all of the thoughts that must have swirled in their minds that morning and that day. After all, it had been a week of roller-coaster rides for all of them.
There was the Triumphal Entry into the Holy City when the people cried out, “Hosannas” to Jesus, and the disciples must have thought that the tide had at last turned to His favor. Then there was the cleansing of the Temple one day and then the Passover Supper in the Upper Room shortly after that.
This meal was enough to make them stop and contemplate that something was amiss, because Jesus changed the meal in mid stream and then talked to them about going away and they could not follow Him. There was that walk from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane, and then the dam broke and Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified. Besides the death of Jesus, there were rumors that Judas-one of their own, the financial whiz of the group-had hung himself. Their hopes which soared earlier in the week were dashed as they all fled and realized that He was gone. What a week! What raw emotions! What twists of fate and life! What changes within a few short days! What now? The outlook was not very rosy indeed for the lot.
Now, on that Easter Sunday, some ladies went to the tomb and found it empty. They knew that He was buried there. They knew that He was inside that new sepulcher and now this first day of the week, there was a violent earthquake, probably an after shock of the earthquake that hit on Friday when the earth moved, the sun became dark and the Curtain in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom-most unusual. (How could that heavy curtain split from the top down? To tear anything in two, the beginning has to be within reach, but the tear was started from the top down-out of the reach of any person in the Temple.)
These things were just too much to digest all at once and it took a while for the disciples and everyone else in Jerusalem and beyond to carefully, with much mental dexterity, to organize and categorize the events of that week, so long ago. But if we could have asked the followers of Jesus that day, that week, and later, “What now?” One wonders what the responses would have been. If we could clarify the question into three specific areas for them, what would they have told us?
These three questions would be answered in time by them, but what would they have answered then. “What now, disciples to THE DARKNESS that was upon you? What now, disciples to THE DELIGHT that you felt that day and later? And, what now, disciples to THE DIRECTION your lives will take from this day forward?” These would be just a few of the many questions that I would have liked to asked them on the first Easter and later. Their answers may not have been clear at that time, but they became clear as time passed.
* THE DARKNESS: Certainly one would have to agree that what the disciples had endured for a few days was DARKNESS of the worse kind. They experienced the physical DARKNESS which engulfed them at the time that Jesus hung on the cross. Then there was the emotional blackness that gripped them when Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified. The former gloom dissipated but the latter shadows hung on to them, indeed, it clung to them, it possessed them and they must have thought that the components of that DARKNESS would never leave them. One of these entities of the night of gloom was the Doubts that held them fast to their fears.
There were the Doubts of following Jesus when He was not the Deliver that they thought He was going to be. They believed that He would do something outstanding and perhaps send Rome packing, but He was not the one to bring a national revival of independence. How could they have been so wrong? What now were they going to do?
There were the Doubts of His divinity and now He was gone; how could they have believed that He was the Son of God? They saw Him do the miracles; they heard Him preach; they heard Him give stinging rebukes to the hypocritical religious leaders of His day and they really held Him to be someone special, but now, He was gone. How would they ever dispel these Doubts and end this terrible DARKNESS that was clinging to them?