If Someone Can Rise from the Dead…
Even the early hours of Sunday, were a dark and confusing time for the disciples. Was Jesus alive, or wasn’t He? Could the women’s story be true? What had really happened to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus? Where was Simon?
Are You a Blue Stamp Collector?
In the 1980s, as a teacher, I was sent on a Transactional Analysis counselling course. It was all about giving and receiving “positive strokes” – building each other up with encouraging and kind comments. But we also learned about negative strokes – giving others a sense of failure and foreboding. Strangely, some people collect negative strokes; constantly on the lookout for depressing things to whinge about. In this kind of counselling these people are called “blue stamp collectors.” It’s not an occasional frustration, but a culture which has invaded their lives, and they have come to accept this outlook as normal, safe, and a shield against disappointment.
Pessimism: Emphasising or thinking of the bad part of a situation rather than the good part, or feeling that bad things are more likely to happen than good things.
The Gospel Reading for Easter Day: Luke 24.28-35 – Sunday Evening
“28 As they approached the village where they were headed, He seemed to be going farther.
31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Jesus—and He disappeared from their sight.
“32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us as He spoke with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
35 Then the two told what had happened on the road, and how they had recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.”
The Disciples before the Resurrection – Pessimism and Trepidation
In the early hours of Good Friday, when Jesus is being arrested, Simon Peter tries to resist by bringing a weapon with him and inflicting a serious wound on the High Priest’s officer. Later, he would deny any association with Jesus.
This is the pinnacle of the negative thinking that pervaded the disciples in the final hours. At supper, Peter doesn’t want his feet washing, and Thomas worries about Jesus’ words.
Beneath these words and actions lies a human condition – we easily become pessimistic and expect the worse.
Dave the Deacon – Optimism and Composure
In Orford, Warrington, in the 1980s, I was part of a church leadership team. The leader I most liked working with was Dave. He had an unceasing sunny outlook. Everything was possible, barriers could easily be overcome; nothing was too difficult. You may remember this story I shared with you:
It was winter, in the mountains of Spain, and sadly, the van came to a halt in a snowstorm – snowed in. The two other members of the team told me they were really worried as they trekked back to the last village they’d passed through, and found somewhere to spend the night. Dave, however, was totally unruffled. Within minutes of lights out, as the two wrestled with their anxieties, Dave could be heard snoring. They asked him next day how he could sleep and not be worried. He asked them what Jesus was doing during the traumatic storm on the Sea of Galilee. They replied, “He was asleep on a cushion.” Dave, responded, “And that’s all we need to do – God knows what He’s doing!”
Where does this positive outlook come from?
Letting the Truth of the Resurrection Percolate into Daily Life
The turning point for me is verse 34 in our gospel reading: “The Lord has really come back to life and has appeared to Simon.”
From this point onwards, they don’t only believe that Jesus is alive again, but, somehow, resurrection begins to percolate down into their hearts, their understanding, their outlook, and the very nuts and bolts of their day to day existence. At it’s core is the truth: if someone can rise from the dead, the God who loves us can do anything! In the picture Peter heals a man with lifelong disability – Acts of the Apostles reveal believers who are consistently optimistic and ready for anything!
May His resurrection be not only an item of your belief but the life-blood of His ongoing walk with you.
Lord help me. Let me move on, beyond accepting the truth of the resurrection, to knowing resurrection power within every issue of my life. Lord set me free from pessimism. Give me the glorious optimism of the resurrection. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.