It was early in the morning on the first day of the week when the women went to the tomb taking spices to anoint the body of Jesus according to their custom. When they got to the tomb they found the stone rolled away and the body of Jesus had gone, instead they saw a young man dressed in white, an angel, who told them ‘He has risen, he is not here, see the place where they laid him’. Their reaction wasn’t one of delight, they couldn’t understand what was happening, they were afraid, and they ran to tell the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb, they saw, and they believed, but like the women they did not understand what had happened.
The Risen Lord then appeared to Mary Magdalen who, thinking that his body had been stolen, was standing by the tomb weeping. She didn’t recognise him, she thought he was the gardener, and it was only when he spoke her name that she knew him and having seen him understood.
That same day two of the disciples were walking to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem, when another traveller, Jesus, joined them on the road. They didn’t recognise him and told him about everything that had happened. When they reached Emmaus they invited the ‘mystery traveller’ to stay with them and when he broke the bread at the table they recognised Jesus and, even though it was late, they went back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples.
It was eight days later when Jesus appeared to the disciples that Thomas recognised the Risen Lord. He had refused to believe, he wanted proof and Jesus gave him that proof saying, ‘doubt no longer but believe’. He then went further and said, ’have you believed because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’.
The followers of Jesus didn’t understand his resurrection. The hope which had been taken from them days before was now about to be realised and they didn’t know it. They saw and they believed but it was only when the Risen Lord actually appeared to them that they understood.
The Risen Lord is the same for us today as he was for his disciples. In these days in particular, we do not understand what is happening around us, but we can see the Risen Lord in the lives and work of others. Those who are caring, those who are helping and are giving their time for the good of others.
When Jesus was crucified his followers lost everything, all they had hoped for had gone, there was no future. The resurrection changed all that and hope returned. We too can have that same hope for the future if we recognise the Risen Lord and allow him into our lives.
Let us pray that on this Easter Day the Risen Lord will greet us as he did his disciples with the words ‘Peace be with you’, will ease our anxieties and calm our fears that we may truly have a Happy Easter.