“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
C.S. Lewis, 1898-1963, A Grief Observed
Novelist, scholar, Christian
Grief is a tough hole to dig out of, come through, and survive. During a devotional time this past week, I thought through the notion that the disciples were grieving. They witnessed their spiritual mentor, their Lord, the Messiah die on the cross. They had been with Jesus three years, from the beginning as Jesus described it in John 15.27. The horror of seeing Jesus’ crucifixion, dying on the cross was heart wrenching. They saw His body placed in the tomb. They returned to the room set aside to commemorate the Passover and stayed there, behind locked doors, hiding. They were grieving.
Although they feared what might happen to them, they grieved the death of Jesus. It is obvious, based on what we do not hear described in the texts, that the disciples were grieving and their grief translated into fear. From Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, we do not hear from them. We later learn when Mary Magdalene approached them to share the good news of the resurrection that they were hiding, in fear, and in grief. The text does not say they were grieving; however, grief is a natural by-product of witnessing a catastrophic loss.
Many people walk in grief for many years. It is difficult for some to move from the death of a loved one, of a friend, of a relationship, or a career. Death comes in many forms, not just physical. However, for the disciples, witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus was devastating.
Fortunate for them and us, their grief was short-lived. Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene came with good news. The fear and grief that had claimed the disciples gave way to excitement and confirmation.
Jesus appeared to them and their grief quickly transformed into joy. Jesus had risen. Jesus was alive. Jesus was in their presence. They had no reason to fear; Jesus had made all things right.
We, too, rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus. We learn from the disciples to be patient, wait on the Lord, and to trust the words of Jesus. He has promised never to leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31.6 and Hebrews 13.5). We trust the words of God; we take comfort in the resurrection of Jesus; and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to work through grief and celebrate new beginnings. The resurrection of Jesus was a new beginning for the disciples as the Church of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, was born. Amen.