A Personal Encounter with the Risen Savior

It is Easter Sunday. The events of the preceding days follow in quick succession: Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, where He is hailed as King by the crowds; the great Passover feast and the hustle and bustle in Jerusalem; the sentencing process and crucifixion of Jesus; His burial; and now the news of the empty tomb! The news spread quickly by word of mouth, not through media like today, firstly about the allegedly “stolen body” and secondly about the appearance of the angels who announced to the women that Jesus was alive!

Still full of excitement and deeply impressed by the events of the last few days, the people return to their hometowns, some of them frightened, confused, and hopeless. Many mourn and weep for Jesus.

Then, amidst all the confusion, something special happens. Jesus gradually appears to a few people and shows Himself to them personally. Who does He meet, and what effect does it have on these people?

1. Mary of Magdala

Jesus first appears to Mary of Magdala. She used to be a possessed woman from whom Jesus had cast out seven spirits. She had experienced Jesus’ forgiving love and was no longer possessed by evil spirits.

She accompanies Jesus to the cross and witnesses His suffering until His last breath. No, Good Friday does not pass her by coldly and without a trace.

Now Mary stands outside the empty tomb and weeps. Jesus had already become the Lord and Master of her life. Was everything supposed to be over with His death? Now not even His body can be found. 

In despair, she laments her loss to the angels sitting at the tomb and then to a man whom she initially believed to be the gardener. “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him.”

Suddenly, she hears her own name: “Mary!” At that moment, she realizes that He is not a gardener, but is Jesus Himself! With great astonishment, she calls out: “Rabboni,” which means: “My Master!” Full of joy, she quickly goes to the disciples and brings them the wonderful news: “I have seen the Lord!”

All sadness, despair, and hopelessness have disappeared – she receives new courage and new hope.

2. The Disciples from Emmaus 

Two disciples from Emmaus make their way back from Jerusalem to their hometown and talk animatedly about recent events. They too are still a little shocked by all the news.

In the middle of the conversation, Jesus joins them – without them recognizing Him – and explains to them all the predictions about His death and resurrection, which are now being fulfilled. They begin to understand. They had hoped that Jesus would free Jerusalem from the political regime. But it was a false hope that collapsed in them with His death. Now Jesus brings them new hope for eternal life and gives them all access to the eternal kingdom of heaven with the heavenly Father. This sets their hearts on fire so that they later must confess: “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road?”

Suddenly, when Jesus enters the house with them and gives thanks for the meal at supper, they recognize Him! But He vanishes before their eyes. They immediately get up, go back to Jerusalem, filled with joy, and tell the disciples that Jesus had appeared to them.

3. All the Disciples 

After all the events, the disciples also withdraw behind closed doors for fear of the Jews.

They cannot believe Mary nor the disciples from Emmaus that Jesus is alive. It seems like a dream or a fairy tale to them. At that moment, Jesus Himself appears and greets them with the words: “Peace be with you!”

He shows them His hands and His wounds. Truly! Now they can see it for themselves and convince themselves with their own eyes – hard to believe! Nevertheless, they are very happy. Then Jesus repeats the greeting: “Peace be with you!” No, it was not a simple catchphrase! Where Jesus fills us completely with His presence, there is peace. All fear, worry, and doubt must disappear. Deep peace returns and rules in our hearts!

4. Thomas

Thomas, one of the eleven disciples, unfortunately misses this encounter. When the disciples tell him about it, he simply cannot believe it. He tells them: “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Eight days later, Jesus comes to them again. This time, Thomas is with them. Jesus gives him His hands and says: “Thomas, put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Now Thomas can really believe it and says, deeply moved: “My Lord and my God!”

5. A Personal Encounter with You

You too may have heard and experienced a lot during these Easter days, perhaps even a church convention with lots of preparation, some hustle and bustle, and pleasant encounters. But should it all pass without having met the Risen One in person?

Has Jesus already become your personal Savior and Master? Have you been able to touch His wounds and nail marks with your heart and mind in faith and, like Thomas, say with full conviction: “My Lord and my God!”?

He calls you personally by your name. No matter what situation or crisis you find yourself in, hear Him say: “Your name! I am here! I am alive, and I am with you!” Know Him in faith and peace, and rest will come into your life.

May Jesus meet you and me personally during these days, and may the fire of His love burn constantly in our hearts!

Dina Grötzinger 

Eppingen, Germany

Bible verses for reference: 

John 20:11-18

Luke 24:13-35

John 20:19-31

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