Utter Despair, Then Utter Triumph!

We who know the glories of Resurrection Sunday are prone to underestimate the utter despair that preceded it some 2000 years ago. As far as I can tell, while Christ’s lifeless body lay in the grave there wasn’t a single person on earth who anticipated his resurrection. As far as humanity was concerned, Christ’s life was a disappointment, a complete failure.

  • The crowds that once cheered Him had turned on Him and demanded His death.
  • His own disciples abandoned Him. One betrayed him to His enemies; all others forsook Him and ran for cover; their “class president” denied Him three times.
  • He had become a public spectacle—mocked, spit upon, brutally beaten, then crucified, probably unclothed.
  • His enemies had won a compelling victory, obtaining His death, then gloating at the foot of His cross.
  • He died, and His disciples mourned, most in hiding. The few who remain gave Him a hasty though respectful burial.
  • Finally, there were two days of despair, during which the only mention of His prophesied resurrection was made by unbelieving but suspicious Jews. (Matt 27:62-63) Even the most faithful of his followers came to the tomb early Sunday morning expecting to embalm Him, not embrace Him. (Mark 16:1-3)

You can hear the disappointment and “what-if’s” in the despondent words of the travelers walking toward Emmaus in Luke 24:17-21:

“We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.” In other words, “We hoped, but we were wrong. He failed. He’s dead. It’s over, and we’re going home.”

No one believed. No one. All were hopeless. And yet…

Christ arose—just as He and the Old Testament prophets before Him had promised! And in so doing, He conquered death and sin and hell and despair. Absolute and complete triumph! And although his followers had been faithless, in the words of James Stalker, the “the alleged resurrection of Christ was accompanied by the indisputable resurrection of Christianity.” Peter, the denier and doubter, would preach less than two months hence that “It was not possible that death could hold Him.” (Acts 2:24) I love that: “IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE!”

He is risen indeed, friends, and He liveth forevermore. Hallelujah!

My Jesus, strong, shall come to reign,
To reign in majesty—
The Lamb arose, and death is slain.
Lord, come in victory!

(My Jesus Fair)

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One Response

  1. Many of those that were in the jeering crowd turned to Christ (Acts 2) not too long after Christ’s Ascension!

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