When did Easter finish for you? Was it as you finished Naomi’s wonderful breakfast in Ignite or when the last Easter egg was eaten or when you went back to work/school? It’s been bothering me for a couple of years that after the slow build up through Lent to the crucifixion on Good Friday, it’s all over too quickly. I rush on past what was quite literally an earth-shattering event so this year I’ve slowed down and rested in the stories of Easter Sunday.
It turns out that Jesus had a really busy day that first Easter Sunday. First, he appeared to Mary Magdalene. He told her not to touch him because he had not fully ascended to the Father. Did he get the timing wrong? Hardly likely – after all he is the all-knowing God. Was it that Mary was so upset that his compassion led him to show himself at the first possible moment even if that meant he wasn’t fully risen?
Next, he accompanied Cleopas and his wife/brother/friend on their way to Emmaus. They weren’t disciples so why did he pick to join them? He treated them to a two-hour bible study as they walked the seven miles. In all that time, they didn’t realise it was him – very odd. When they finally did recognise him as he broke bread, he vanished. They were so excited that they walked the seven miles back to Jerusalem to let the disciples know. Did the explanation that Jesus had given to these two apparently random followers become the basis of the disciples’ understanding as things moved forward?
I wonder if they were disappointed when they reached Jerusalem to hear that Jesus had appeared to Simon in the meantime – that their news wasn’t the first. We don’t know any of the details of what was done or said in this meeting between Jesus and Simon but isn’t it great that Jesus met the man who had denied him and let him down so publicly on the first day of his rising.
He didn’t make Simon wait until everyone was there and possibly be left with doubts as to whether he was welcome. He made sure Simon knew right off that it was OK.
To top off an already busy day, he finally appeared to the disciples (apart from Thomas) as they cowered in the upper room. Imagine their relief and joy that it wasn’t all over. That the unbelievable stories they had heard from Mary Magdalene, Cleopas and Simon were true. There was more to come.
So having defeated death, Jesus didn’t rest on his laurels. He got back to his mission as soon as possible.
There are so many things in this first day’s activities that are hard to fathom. Why didn’t he go straight to the disciples? Why did he explain the Scriptures to people outside his core group? Why didn’t he punish Simon for his betrayal? What can we learn from this unexpected behaviour?
When you know someone is upset, don’t delay going to comfort them.
Realise that truth and insights don’t belong to the chosen few. All of us can be given a message to carry.
If someone hurts you or lets you down, don’t hang on to the hurt but get right in there and sort things out.
Above all, absorb the inexpressible joy that Jesus has defeated death and he is risen.