Throughout Lent we have explored Jesus’ ministry to the Apostle Peter.  This Easter Sunday we will broaden our view beyond Peter to Jesus’ ministry with all of the disciples.  In the Gospel of John chapter 20 Mary Magdalene was the first to discover the empty tomb.  Thinking someone had taken Jesus from the tomb, she ran and told Peter and the “beloved disciple.”  When Peter and the other disciple reached the tomb, they both entered and saw the burial cloths left behind.  John 20:8 says the other disciple “saw and believed.”  But then we are told that “they still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.”   Once again we see the disciples’ understanding is limited.

The disciples’ limited understanding of what took place that first Easter Sunday is a theme throughout John 20.  Their ignorance, grief, fear or doubt were barriers to faith.  But Jesus does not leave them with those barriers.  In three different encounters Jesus overcame those barriers to faith by graciously giving to the disciples exactly what they needed to come to faith.  Jesus did not chastise the disciples.  Rather, he met them with gentleness, care and humility.   

Throughout Lent we have seen how Peter is representative not only of the other 11 disciples, but also of you and me.  As we celebrate the empty tomb this Easter Sunday, we also have a limited understanding of what the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection means.  For some of us, it’s due to ignorance.  For others, it is grief.  For still others fear blocks us from the hope of the resurrection.  And still others are skeptical of the possibility of Jesus’ resurrection.  The stories from John 20 promise us that Jesus will meet us where we are and graciously give what we need to come to faith.  That is good news.  The question is whether we are open and receptive to receiving God’s grace.

Pastor Dave