From Sadness to Gladness
The first Easter did not look like a typical Easter celebration.
Before Jesus’ resurrection was discovered, the day was marked by tears, devastation, and bewilderment—not joy, hope, and praise. The disciples were gathered out of fear, to protect one another, not to sing “Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!” They sat in sadness; their story had come to a grinding halt, with the next page blank.
Or so they thought.
The Bible does not attempt to deny or idealize the grief felt by Christ’s followers after His crucifixion. They didn’t understand what had happened, and they certainly didn’t know what would happen next. Their sadness reveals humanity’s limitations in knowing the bigger picture. Despite the Old Testament prophecies and Jesus’ own foretelling of His death (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34), John’s Gospel tells us that they “as yet did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9). They didn’t understand that when Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished” (19:30), He was not expressing defeat but declaring victory.
This victory meant resurrection. And as the resurrected Savior came to the disciples in their darkness, fear, and sadness, He brought transformation. Their unbelief turned to belief and their sadness to gladness. That gladness was rooted in the fact that they understood that Jesus had risen from the dead. Their faith and their future returned and were rooted in this wonderful reality. The darkness of their despair made the light of the resurrection all the more glorious.
If you are looking for a god that will just make you glad, you shouldn’t look for the God of the Bible. He does make us glad—more so than anyone or anything else—but He often starts by making us sad. We are saddened by this broken world, saddened by our own sin, saddened that on the cross Jesus died for our wickedness, disobedience, and disinterest. It is only through truly feeling such sorrow that we can fully understand the gladness that comes with our account being settled, our debt being paid, and our wrongs being forgiven.
We can know the gladness of a love that loves us even though we are not worthy of it—that loves us when we don’t want to listen. What kind of love is this? It is the love of God for men and women, for you and me! Today, look away from yourself and look at Him. This is love, and when we know we are loved in this way, we are able to see the healing in the harm and that sadness can be the soil in which eternal gladness grows. About which part of your life—perhaps a part full of pain, or regret, or anxiety—do you need to hear this today? Remember that whatever you are walking through, it remains true that Christ the Lord is risen. Hallelujah!
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
19On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,3 Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
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