We’ve never experienced an Easter like this one, have we? Actually, the church has.
Think back to the very first Easter. The disciples did not start the day belting out Sandi Patty’s “Was It a Morning like This?” Rather, they started out the day in the same mood they were in the previous day, Saturday. They spent Saturday huddled indoors, feeling sad, confused, scared, and frustrated.
Never had a weekend been so sad.
Jesus was gone, and they missed their Friend. The crowds which had so exuberantly welcomed them into Jerusalem had turned against them with red-faced shouts of “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Never had a weekend been so confusing.
If God was in charge, then what was Jesus doing nailed to a couple of wooden planks? The disciples could still hear the ringing of the pounding hammer as nails went through wrists and feet. Those hands had never done anything to anybody except love and heal.
Never had a weekend been so scary.
Not that these men would ever admit it, but they’d always had nightmares about crosses. Ever since that first time they were walking on the road with their parents, and Dad had said, “Don’t look up, Son.” But they did anyway. And ever since then, they’d had nightmares about crosses.
Were they next?
Never had a weekend been so frustrating.
Everything had been going so perfectly. That Sunday, Jesus had come into Jerusalem like a conqueror. It would have only been a matter of time before He could gather to Himself an army of followers, win over the allegiance of the people, and take back Jerusalem, then Judea, then the rest of the Holy Land, from the Romans.
But He was arrested at midnight. Put on trial at 2:00 a.m. By 9:00 a.m., He’s carrying the cross. By 3:00 p.m., He’s dead. Three years of their lives wasted. So many hopes up in smoke.
Huddled indoors, they wondered what God could possibly have been accomplishing through this season of sadness, confusion, fear, and frustration.
We get only a half-verse to describe what the disciples were doing on that sad and scary Saturday:
“On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56b).
The point of the Sabbath was to rest and worship. But how could the disciples rest and worship during a time which was so sad, confusing, scary, and frustrating?
Honestly, we don’t know how they could. Not after what they had just been through. But, this side of the Resurrection, we do know why they should. From our perch in history, we are able to confirm that God was very much at work.
Fast-forward to today, when the world as we know it seems turned upside-down.
While the medical community scrambles to treat each new case of COVID-19, many of us try to prevent the spread by lockdowns and quarantines. We are all in this room of Waiting. This Easter, the end of the chaos and confusion is nowhere in sight.
What did the followers of Jesus do while they were in a similar place of waiting? Although deeply troubled, they trusted God at least enough to obey the command He had given for that particular day—to rest.
The verses that describe that first Easter are peppered with pained phrases like “we had hoped” (Luke 24:21), and words like “nonsense” (Luke 24:11) and “wondering” (Luke 24:4) and more “wondering” (Luke 24:12). Yet they obeyed God’s command and rested.
We too have entered in this room of Waiting. Maybe like the early disciples, you’re asking, “What do I do in the meantime?”
Here’s one thing we know, based on past experience: Even in times that feel like wasted waiting, God is up to something. Whatever seasons of waiting you see in the Bible—imprisonments, enslavements, deserts, exiles—you just have to read a bit longer, and you’ll see that God was up to something the whole time.
This Easter weekend, we want to encourage and remind you that God is at work. In the meantime, although there’s a lot of uncertainty, we have certainty about a couple of things: 1) that God is up to something, and 2) that He calls us to participate in what He’s up to. How do we participate? By doing the kinds of things He’s told us to do:
- Worship Him (“Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness,” Ps. 96:9).
- Accept God’s forgiveness for yourself, and practice grace for those you encounter every day.
- Do the work set before you (“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,” Col. 3:23)
- “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
- Disciple someone (Matthew 28).
- Practice spiritual gifts (“We have different gifts…If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully,” Rom. 12:8).
- Make ready your heart for Him.
One day our eyes will behold Him too. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, our hearts will “burn within us.” Those who believe will be done waiting. We will join the hosts of heaven, with what sounds like “a great multitude, like a roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready’” (Revelation 19:7).
This Easter, do you find yourself feeling sad, confused, scared, or frustrated?
Even if you’re feeling all of the above, it’s time to go ahead, and in faith, participate in the good work that we know God is up to.