Easter: no reproach………….just peace.
Easter is certainly coming early this year. It seemed that we had only just started the new year before lent was upon us, our churches were bereft of flowers, and the long six week wait had begun until 31st March when Easter Day is celebrated. And celebrate we shall, with a service in each of our Team churches that Sunday!
Do you ever wonder what it must have been like to hear the testimonies of those first disciples about Our Lord’s death and resurrection? - when they spoke about their experience of the first Easter? I wonder what feelings were stirred up in them? Supposing we had been there – supposing we had been one of those disciples. What would we have been feeling?
If we were one of the men, we most probably would be feeling guilty or ashamed for running away when Jesus was arrested. In the garden of Gethsemane, the initial bravado of “Lord, here are two swords” quickly evaporated when the temple police arrived. Fear took over: fear of the Jerusalem city authorities, fear of the armed crowd, and fear of the Roman occupation forces. The disciples fled, terrified for their own safety and freedom. They abandoned Jesus to his fate.
Except the women – they followed Jesus on his dreadful road to Calvary.
Perhaps then it is no wonder that the women came along early one morning to tell the disciples “The Lord is risen!” – but the men didn’t believe them. The truth is they didn’t want to believe. Depressed by their own guilt, and still frightened of the consequences of association, they did not want to be confronted by the friend they had abandoned to a cruel death. They could reproach themselves, but they were not ready for anything like that from Jesus.
They were too fragile.
However, when Jesus does appear to his disciples, he doesn’t reproach them for running away. He doesn’t say “Where were you when I needed you? It’s all your fault!” Instead he says “Peace be with you”. If there is any reproach, it is not for the past but for the present – the fact that they cannot believe what they are seeing, what their eyes are telling them - that Jesus is alive, risen from the dead and living!
Like the disciples we too can find it difficult to stay with Jesus and have to admit to times when we have abandoned him; faith can be a difficult and challenging thing. And yet Easter is our assurance that the Risen Lord is always with us – whether we recognise Him there or not. And whatever powerful feelings of angst rise up in us when we (yet again) discover He is with us, He just fills us with His peace.
So as we journey through Lent onto Easter, take time out to re-discover the Risen Lord. Believe me, there is no reproach………….only his peace.
Yours in Christ
Revd. Chris Wingfield