This side of Easter

Published 8:32 am Friday, March 30, 2018

No one showed up at the tomb that day before the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why would they? Anyone who had placed their hope in Jesus as the Messiah had been made a fool, or so it seemed, by the defeat and death of Jesus. It was the price they paid for their “misplaced faith.”

If they didn’t hear the taunts directly from the religious crowd that crucified their Lord, his followers surely heard the judgements ringing in the dark recesses of their own minds: “Where’s your Messiah now? You should have known. We tried to steer you away from your misguided, radical ideas about that lunatic. Maybe you’ll take it back now, return to the true faith, to us, but we can’t guarantee we won’t vote you out, and you know what happens to the likes of people like you. Stupid fool.”

The early believers prepared for the first Easter by hiding out, pretending not to have been one of those who had followed after the man they thought would set up the kingdom.

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It’s easy for us, dwelling as we do on the other side of Easter, having grown accustomed to the victory, to glide into that glorious celebration day, rather than crawling to it in the dust of defeat, with no hope that the Savior could lift us out of the muck and the mire, as the first disciples had to. Can we even fathom what it is to be defeated, broken, lost, flat on our spiritual back?

“What’s the weather forecast for Saturday? Will it interfere with the Easter eggs we are hiding in the back yard for the kids to find on Sunday? And, quick, check the hours at the mall, just in case Momma needs a new Easter dress or Daddy wants a new tie — he’s worn that same Easter coat and tie for the last umpteen years.”

I wonder what Mary, the mother of Jesus, was thinking that Saturday? I guarantee it wasn’t what she was going to wear on Sunday. Was she still trying to get that bloody, mangled image of her son out of her mind? Did the flashbacks of him hanging on the cross torment her continually? Was she trying to replace them with what he was as a boy? But then, that would make her weep all over again. How could she sleep, if even for a little while?

And what about Peter, the most ardent believer, the Rock, the one who promised his allegiance to Jesus no matter what, but then had fallen asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane? On Saturday, with his head hanging low, was he still beating himself up for having failed?

And Thomas? He had vowed that he would die with Jesus. On Saturday, perhaps he was wandering through the backstreets of Jerusalem, asking himself why he had ever decided to follow Jesus in the first place.

The resurrection was not just a victory; it is the victory of all victories — the victory that changes everything about everything: resurrecting hope, instilling faith, making eternity with Jesus not just a whimsical thought but a certain reality.

I look forward to the celebration; it’s my favorite day of the year, for on it my faith stands, and without it, I am still guilty of my sins, and I with my fellow believers are “more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (I Corinthians 15:19).

But just for a while this Saturday, if even for a moment, think about what it would be to have lost the game of your life, for it is your life that’s at stake here, and the loss would leave you totally without hope, shamed, mocked, and humiliated before your family, friends, and acquaintances.

But then take a deep breath, and if you are a believer, rest assured, it’s the refreshing breath of new life, made possible by Jesus, who died for our sin.

And looking to Sunday, fall on your knees and praise him.

After all, he is alive!

Contact David Whitlock, Ph.D. at or visit his website,