SUNDAY | JOY
Their eyes were seeing it, but their minds were not processing it yet. How could they? They knew Jesus was dead. Earlier that day, the women had come in with some ridiculous story about that impossibly large stone being rolled back and Jesus’ body being gone. Then Mary comes and tells them that she actually spoke to Jesus herself. Peter fell for it, but there’s no way the rest of them would be taken in… again. They had believed Jesus that he was the Messiah, and now he’s dead. They weren’t going to be deceived again. But now, they don’t know what to believe because Jesus is standing in front of them. But it can’t be. They had watched as he was wrapped in burial clothes. They all had laid him in the tomb themselves. They had seen several soldiers roll the stone across the entrance. They had grieved through the Sabbath for him. But now their minds are racing. Their hearts wanted to rejoice, but their minds wouldn’t let them. Surely, this can’t be. But it was.
- Read Luke 24:1–12, 36–49. Luke says, “they disbelieved for joy.” Have you ever had an experience like this where you wanted something to happen so badly that when it came you didn’t believe it?
- It wasn’t merely that they got their friend back. They had begun to question everything that they had believed. Think about the relief and joy they would have felt to see Jesus. Spend a moment to put yourself in their shoes and think through how that must have felt.
We don’t get the chance to see Jesus, to walk with him, to hear him teach, to mourn his death, to rejoice in his life. It’s hard to put ourselves there when we’re comfortable here. It’s difficult to feel the joy of Sunday when we never knew Jesus dead and not risen. But we can grasp these things by faith. As Peter says in writing to people who never saw Jesus with their own eyes, “you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.”
- What is your emotional response to the resurrection? (This not to fill us with guilt from where we think we should be, but to figure out where we are right now)
- Read 1 Peter 1:8. This is written to people like us who didn’t see Jesus with their own eyes. Pray that God will give you a heart that rejoices with this kind of joy at the Gospel.
Besides the disciples’ joy at seeing the risen Christ and our joy at believing in him, there is one more significant joy resulting from the cross. Jesus’ joy in dying. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him. What joy could Christ possibly find in the cross? It was the joy of, in one single moment, giving inestimable glory to God. It was the joy of reconciling a family to the Father, It was the joy of ransoming rebels from their self-inflicted slavery to sin. It was the joy of welcoming weary saints into the unfathomable beauty of heaven. It was a rejoicing over the church, and it made the cross worth it.
- Read Hebrews 12:1–2. Take a moment to meditate on the fact that Jesus deliberately went to the cross and took your punishment and shame and considered it joy. Spend time worshipping God for this.
- There’s also a joy set before us. The joy of seeing our Savior face-to-face in ever-lasting joy. And out of this joy, the Christian is called to run a race that will be difficult, painful, self-denying, and shameful. Ask God to give you grace to look at Jesus in order to run your race with endurance…and joy.
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