Easter has come reminding us of Christ victory for all of mankind. Jeremy and I have been discussing this week what it must have been like for disciples two thousand years ago... Can you imagine palm Sunday from them? Here is a group of guys who have been following Jesus because they think he is the Messiah, and now finally after what seems like forever he is entering Jerusalem like a conquering king! I am sure they had friends and family members who were asking them questions like "Are you serious with this Jesus guy? If he was really the Messiah wouldn't he have done something by now?" and I am also sure that the disciples had personal doubts... these guys were all under the same bad impression that the Messiah would come as an earthly conquer and so this moment on Palm Sunday must have really made them feel vindicated (sing Dashboard now.)
But that feeling didn't last long, because as soon as they wave the Palm branches Jesus refuses the mantel of conquer, and basically calls out all of Jerusalem because they can't see that He is the Messiah, but he is not the conquer they expected. The Bible doesn't say this, but I bet this was the point at which Judas made up his mind to betray Jesus, and I am sure he rationalized it by thinking that doing this would keep the other disciples from wasting their lives with this Jesus freak.
The roller coaster does not stop their for them... Good Friday comes and here is Jesus all super worried and they don't see it... all they can do is sleep... and suddenly people are taking Jesus... arresting Him for being Him, and to make it even more painful one of their own led the mob there; one of their own betrayed him. There is confusion, swords are drawn, others run, and suddenly that feeling of doubt the disciples had when Jesus denied the mantel of conquer is so strong its blinding them. They can't see that this all fulfills the prophecies, all they can see is a man whom they once hoped would be the Messiah is now being taken away like a common criminal.
The masses are gathered outside Pilot's court as he offers them a choice of which criminal to redeem. The disciples where there watching and hoping, but as soon as the crowd begins to scream "crucify" they begin to leave... maybe even one or two of them cried crucify as well.
So here is Jesus on the cross, beaten and tortured, a few have not lost all hope and so they stand by with Jesus' family. As He hangs there He cries out to God, "Why have You forsaken Me?!!?" For the disciples there it must have seen like the darkest hour of their lives... they had all put their trust in Jesus to be the Messiah, but now He hangs on the cross like a common criminal screaming in anguish, and it seems like the end. Final, with His last breath, Jesus cries "It Is FINISHED!" and the world goes dark, the earth quakes violently, the dead walk among the living there is utter confusion. Even brave Roman soldiers cower in fear and awe.
What are the disciples supposed to think of all of this? They don't know the huddle together in upper rooms, because they have become a family and this is a time for family. Day after day they ponder what has happened once again forgetting Jesus' own words telling them that He would rise on the third day. Sunday dawns and they are all together eating brunch (so that's a creative liberty) when suddenly Mary barges in screaming like a woman who has seen a ghost... Peter and John interpret the shrieks first and take off for the tomb as fast as they can. John gets their first, and then Peter... gone, Someone has taken his body, but wait whats this... He is alive? How? Joy and confusion burn inside them as they sprint back to the other disciples. They lock the door, because they don't know if this was all a trick by the Pharisees, but they hope that its the truth, and then it happens, then they see Him right in their midst! He is alive! He is alive!
What a roller coaster that must have been for them, from the peak of Palm Sunday to devastation of Good Friday and then the Ultimate high of Easter Sunday! I am not sure of this but I am willing to bet that even though ten of them died awful deaths for their faith in a risen Savior I think none of them ever came back down from that ultimate high. That's not to say that every believer should always feel great, but I think there would be a joy for those eleven like we can only glimpse and that is the kind of experience that will mark you not just for this life but for all eternity. Praise the Lord, Jesus is Risen! My Savior Lives... I just hope I can do half as much with this joy as those eleven who transformed the world.