Easter In Lockdown
Good Morning! Resurrection morning!Jesus has risen! He is alive! We all shout, Hallelujah! This is a day of rejoicing. Now, each day will be a day of rejoicing, because Jesus is alive!
But our text tells us that on the very evening of the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead, His disciples were paralyzed with fear! His disciples were in lockdown!
They had locked themselves in because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders—the same ones who had crucified their Lord. They were filled with sorrow. Even though Jesus had told them that He would rise, and even told them where to meet Him, they could not believe that Jesus had risen. They could not overcome their sadness.
And they were filled with fear. Without Jesus, they would be the religious authorities’ next target. This would remove all traces of what they called a sect.
What does Easter in lockdown mean?
John tells us that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early. She and a few other women were the only ones who were brave enough to go visit the tomb where Jesus had been laid.
But the tomb was empty. Throughout history, none of the tombs of all the great religious leaders of the past or present have ever been empty; they all are filled with the dead bones of their leaders. But Jesus’ tomb is empty.
Mary ran to tell the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb. Someone once said, everybody seemed to be running on that first Easter morning.
Running out of fear . . . running because Jesus has disappeared . . . running in despair and confusion . . . but Mary may have been running out of expectation!
The two disciples saw the empty tomb and then returned to the room where the other disciples were staying. They believed that the tomb was empty and Jesus’ body was missing. But they still did not believe that He had risen. But Luke tells us that Peter marveled at what he saw,
But Mary remained. As she stood weeping, two angels ministered to her and comforted her. Suddenly Jesus appeared to Mary. She didn’t recognize Him at first; but then He called her by name: Mary!
There is a quietness on Resurrection Morning . . . a stillness. Jesus does not appear standing on top of the temple to shout out to everybody that He has risen!
He doesn’t walk proudly through the streets of Jerusalem to threaten those who crucified Him.
Jesus’ resurrection appearance is not revealed in power, although He was raised by the power of His Holy Spirit.
His first appearance is in quiet love. 고요한 사랑
He gently, and quietly, calls Mary by her name. And he took away all her fears.
Resurrection morning is the morning when Love conquered the universe. As the psalmist promised, “In the evening come tears, but with dawn cries of joy!” (Psalm 30:5)
We are reminded of the great “love song” of the Welsh Revival in 1904-5. The Welsh people still sing this song today, over 100 years later.
Here is Love, Vast as an Ocean
바다 같은 주의 사랑
“Grace and love like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
물결 치는 주의 사랑
한 없이 쏟아지고
Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.”
하늘나라 평화 정의
죄악 세상 입 마추었네 (적시네)
We visited Wales last year with a classical music team led by the famous pianist Aija Kim. We went to most of the places where the revival broke out. I remember the last night. Many people gathered to worship. A young Welsh man sat next to me, and he was very unhappy because his wife forced him to attend. But near the end of the worship, Aija began to play softly this hymn. And this young man, who entered the meeting with a bitter heart, suddenly began to weep when he heard the words “Heaven’s peace and perfect justice kissed a guilty world in love” . . . 물결 치는 주의 사랑 한 없이 쏟아지고 . . . 하늘나라평화 정의 죄악 세상 입 마추었다.
But his tears were tears of great joy. Mary Magdalene must have wept the same tears of great joy on Easter morning!
Jesus commissioned Mary to go and tell the other disciples that He had risen, and where He will go: “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God!” (John 20:17) She went and told the disciples.
We come now to the evening of the Day of Resurrection. The disciples are in lockdown. But as you know, even though we have to isolate ourselves, we are never isolated from Jesus. Jesus walked through the locked doors and stood in their midst.
There is no lockdown for Jesus. He promised that He will be with us as long as we live. He is present in the storms. He enters into our sickness. He stands beside us when we are afraid. I am convinced that in all the nations of the world, where people are locked in their homes for fear of the virus, Jesus enters; where homeless people have no homes, Jesus makes His home with them. In the midst of the unimaginable suffering of the poor in India, Africa and parts of the Middle East, in all areas of the world, Jesus enters in.
This could be a powerful prayer to pray on Easter Sunday. “Lord, enter into all the houses, the tents, the shelters, or the palaces of powerful leaders. Reveal Yourself to them as the Resurrected Christ, Lord of the universe. Bring healing to a world in pain and sorrow.”
His first words to His disciples were: “Peace be with you!”
“My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27)
It is an inner peace that flows from Jesus’ presence. Jesus enters into our locked and troubled souls.
The risen Christ speaks forgiving love to His disciples.
He speaks peace to the world.
Jesus comes to each of us this morning . . . He comes to everyone in the world who is behind the locked doors of their hearts, and simply says, “Peace to you.”
Perhaps the greatest miracle that took place on that first Resurrection day was that He transformed a group of frightened and confused men and women into a community of love!
He commissioned them to take this Gospel of sacrificial love and peace to the world. Every person in the world today deserves to hear this great Gospel of peace. So Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.”
The message is: Everyone who will come to Jesus and confess Him as Savior and Lord can receive peace. Peace is reconciliation with God. This is our message to everyone: “You are loved. God loves you with a sacrificial love. Come to Him; He will take away all your sins, and you will have new life. Let Him fill your life with peace and hope!”
But let us remember that God raised Jesus in power. Jesus breathed into His disciples, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This was the fulfillment of God’s promise through Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 37:14: “I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live.”
This has happened to all of us, just as it happened on that first Resurrection evening. When we opened our hearts to receive the Risen Lord, His Spirit came to live within us. The Spirit lives within us. Now He wants to come upon us with power, that we might be His witnesses in the world!
This passage – John 20:19-23 – is the Great Commission in the Gospel of John. The heart of the Great Commission here is forgiveness. This is our message: God forgives you for your sin. Now you must forgive one another. You forgive even your enemies, those who work evil in the world today. Forgive them in the name of Jesus Christ, and they will be forgiven. And the world will have peace.
All that happened on the first Resurrection Day is happening today. God wants every day to be Resurrection Day!
A day of love that conquers the universe!
A day of peace that rules throughout the world!
A day of forgiveness that sets people free!
And all God’s people said, “Hallelujah! Amen!”
How then shall we live?
- In hope—that we also will rise
- now, in this world, nothing we do is in vain
- Our eyes are open – we see Jesus face to face.
- We have a mission.