It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. [John 20:19-20 CEB]
It is interesting to note, as we read the narratives of that first Easter Sunday in each of the four Gospels, how each character reacts to the resurrection of Jesus. To Mary Magdalene, her experience of the risen Lord didn’t happen until Jesus called her by name. Mary didn’t recognize Him and thought He was the gardener. John recounts in his gospel that the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. We read how Thomas didn’t experience the risen Lord until later, for he wasn’t with the disciples on that first evening and wouldn’t believe it until he put his finger in the nail marks of Christ’s hand. Then there were the two men who thought the risen Lord was just some wise stranger, even though He walked with them all the way to a town named Emmaus. When we read Scripture, we are peeking into the stories of those who were there and revisiting how they experienced the risen Lord.
So, the question we must ask ourselves today is, “How do WE experience the risen Lord?” One of the things we can say about the stories we read in the Gospels is that Jesus appeared to each in different forms, different ways. So maybe the risen Lord is revealed to each of us in a way that uniquely touches us.
Maybe we experience the risen Lord in a voice—an inner voice that guides us, gives us direction, warns us of danger, or soothes us when we are seemingly uncontrollable in crisis. Maybe we experience the risen Lord as a presence—not a presence that we can take a picture of, but as an overpowering sense that we are not alone. Maybe we experience the risen Lord as a sudden, unexplainable change of heart—something that overcomes us with comfort when we are in the depths of sorrow, something that saturates us with joy when our world is dark and gloomy. And maybe, just maybe, we experience the risen Lord through others—others who can say that they have experienced the risen Lord and who live out their lives as witnesses to the resurrection. These are people for whom the resurrected Christ has so deeply touched them that they have given their life to be bearers of Jesus’ light.
The witnesses to the resurrection are not solely the ones we read about in the Bible on that first Easter Sunday. We can all be included in that group. We can be "Easter people" by being witnesses to His resurrection through the way we live our lives—by helping to alleviate suffering; by standing up for someone who seems to always be put at the end of the line; by seeking and granting forgiveness; by striving for reconciliation rather than strife in relationships; by offering healing for those who are broken; by striving for what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy. At Easter, God vindicated the kind of life that was in Christ Jesus. Shouldn’t we somehow make these things a part of us?