The disciples’ salvation depended on the fate of their Lord Jesus. They had pinned all of their hopes on Him, so when He died on the cross, they thought it was all over. By all appearances, Christ’s three years of teaching had ended as a major failure, with His enemies carrying the day. No longer able to live in fellowship with Him, the disciples seemed left with no option but to return to their former occupations, discouraged and broken-hearted.
They could not preach the message of a dead Christ. Who would believe in such a Savior? Who would accept a Messiah who had professed to help others but not been able to help Himself? Could people be expected to believe that such a Savior truly had the power to save? What could He do for others? Nobody would trust in a dead Messiah.
However, the Resurrection changed all of this. It gave them a living Christ! This glorious event confirmed the truth of everything He had said and taught. It awakened a living hope in all of the disciples, as Peter himself testified, and it gave them their beloved Lord back! Far from being weakened by death and the grave, He returned immortal and powerful, as King of Kings. Now, they could preach His name without shame. Now, a living Christ worked with and through them, a Christ who had been raised to the right hand of the living God and who had the power to save and protect from sin.
The great difference between Christ and the rest of humanity became apparent with His resurrection. When a teacher dies, his students are left with only his teachings to remember him by. The Lord’s disciples, however, were in a very different position, with their Teacher Himself returned to them. They still had His teachings, but they got Him back too.
Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, and John the Baptist had died and remained in the grave, and that is what they expected of Jesus as well. That is why they went to the grave. However, when they arrived, the angel asked them: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5) Jesus is not in the grave; He is risen. This Jesus wants to be with us in our daily lives, for we have a living Christ.
We read that the disciples did not know the scripture that Jesus would rise from the dead. They would have been familiar with the prophecy itself, and Jesus had personally told them the same thing, but still they had not truly understood.
Can the same be said of us and the well-known story of the resurrection of Jesus? Are the historical facts related in the Bible all that we know about it? Or have we comprehended and experienced its significance in our own hearts? Is Jesus alive for and within us? Does He reveal Himself to us? Do we know Him? Do we walk with Him? Has He become our inheritance, or are we content with only His teachings?
No matter how fiercely we defend the written Word, no matter how precisely we understand it, if the love of Jesus is not our driving force, we cannot be victorious! Only in communion with Jesus do we find the satisfying riches of lasting peace and eternal life. There is no life outside of Jesus. He, the living Christ, wants to have living fellowship with us. Christ is the core of Christianity—the only source of true life and sustenance. Doctrine, rules, and regulations only serve their purpose if they help to bring us into closer communion with Him. This is essential for us to be real Christians.
After the two disciples had met the risen Lord on the way to Emmaus on that first Easter Sunday, they joyfully returned to Jerusalem to share the good news with the others. The distance between Jerusalem and Emmaus is approximately twelve kilometers. Although the disciples were tired from the journey, we read: “So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem” (Luke 24:33). They had seen Jesus again! They had to let the other disciples know.
Have we recognized Jesus in all His glory, and does that drive us to share the message with others? The revelation of the risen Lord motivated those two disciples to do so, and the revelation of Christ in our hearts will inspire us to do the Lord’s work as well.
The first day of that week marked the beginning of a new experience, a new era. Before that day, the disciples knew Jesus only in the flesh, and so their hopes had been dashed when He died. Now, however, they came to know Him in spirit as well. Death had lost its power, and they were reunited with a living Christ. The resurrection of Jesus transformed their sorrow to joy, their weakness to strength, and their defeat to victory. “The Lord is truly risen!” was now their triumphant cry. From this time on, Christianity has had the power to drive the kingdom of Satan out of people’s hearts, supplanting it with the kingdom of God.
You, too, can have the same experience. Sadness can be turned to joy, death to life, and defeat to victory if Jesus becomes the living truth in your life.