Their hearts were filled with natural questions:
"What will become of us?"
"Where will I end up when all of this over?"
"What will Jesus ultimately do?"
"When will Jesus reveal it all?"
On that long ago Passover Sabbath, however, their dreams and expectations lay shattered in their silence as they hid in a locked room. One of those missing from their number was the son of Iscariot, Judas the betrayer, the very one that they had trusted with the money bag. His body now swayed in the breeze, dangling lifelessly as a sad memorial to broken dreams and unfilled hopes. Thomas, the ever-practical and calculating one, was absent as well. No one was certain where he was, but they must have assumed he was out trying to determine what to do next now that their world was forever broken. Cephas — Simon the fisherman whom Jesus renamed Rocky (Peter) — had once been their brash leader. Now, however, he was a profoundly broken man, racked with guilt for his own failure.
The other nine of the apostles huddled in silence together. Their tear stained faces and their sunken eyes refused to meet the glance of another and told the story of their despair. How were they to go on when all that they once held dear, all that they had once hoped, was now gone ... lifeless and dead as the body of the one they thought would lead them to glory.
Then everything changed — not just their sadness, not just their feelings of defeat, not just their guilt for abandoning him, not just their sense of purposeless, but everything. Their Lord lived! Hope was restored! Life was flooded with new meaning! And this band of disheartened and defeated companions was changed into fellowship of resurrection — a band of friends with forever purpose.
Jesus would spend the next 40 days joining himself to them to help them know it was true. He was doing the final preparation to make them ready for his ultimate departure and his sending of the Spirit. Then they had to wait another 10 days before they were empowered to be all that God wanted them to be. During this time — this 40 days of purpose, this 50 days of grace — they had to know three crucial truths that would guide them and change the course of the world.
- Truth One:
When one lives for the glory of the Father, when he or she loves and lives for the purpose of the Holy One, no disaster is permanent. Just as God's power stole away the victory of Satan in Jesus' crucifixion and worked it for good, so can he also work in any situation to bring about his glory and share his grace.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT, emphasis added)
- Truth Two:
When one lives life out of a sense of God's purpose, trusting in the power of the resurrection, nothing he or she does can be robbed of meaning and significance. The power of the resurrection is at work in each life that is offered to him. Jesus' victory over death assures each believer of this truth.
How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)
- Truth Three:
Jesus wasn't crucified and raised just to save his followers FROM something, but to also save them FOR something. They are called to be his witnesses — people who display his power, mercy, grace, and love before a watching and cynical world. They were on earth for a reason. There is purpose and meaning in who they were, where they were, and when they were. They were even promised power to help them live out this purpose and are reminded that their purpose is world-changing.
But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
Jesus took 40 days and showed himself alive to his first followers. He then had them wait another 10 days before he poured out his Spirit to empower them and use them to "turn the world upside down" (Acts 17:6) with his message of love, forgiveness, power, and purpose.
In 7 weeks, Jesus took his broken-spirited followers and turned them into world-changers. Imagine what he can do with you and me! You see, Jesus didn't just rise from the dead, but he lives as Lord so that we can live our lives with purpose, meaning, and significance, bringing glory to our Father in heaven. God bless us on this journey!