Good morning, friends.
Do you ever have those moments when something you've read countless times suddenly surprises you with something new? You come back expecting the same story and there's a new detail or a new lesson you'd never noticed before?
Here's one that hit me this morning as I was reading Matthew's account of Jesus' death and burial:
"The chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, 'Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last fraud will be worse than the first.'" (Matthew 27:62-64)
I've been overwhelmed this year by just how specific Jesus is in preparing his disciples for what's to come:
"[Jesus] said to his disciples, 'You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man [his favorite name for himself] will be delivered up to be crucified.'" (Matthew 26:1-2)
But his death wasn't the only thing he predicted. He also predicted that he would rise after three days in the grave.
He was so clear about it that even the religious leaders who hated him and had him killed knew about it. They posted a guard at the tomb not simply because of potential shenanigans of the disciples. They wanted a guard because Jesus himself predicted that he would come back to life.
Did the disciples not remember Jesus' repeated prediction - or dare we say, promise? Was it too far-fetched to believe?
It would be easy to criticize the disciples. They fled in fear as Jesus was arrested. Peter betrays him. They're hiding behind locked doors on the day of Jesus' Resurrection. Thomas won't believe until he can touch Jesus' scars.
It's easy to say, "Why did this catch you by surprise? Were you so hard of hearing? Were the Jewish religious leaders listening more closely to Jesus than you were? Why weren't you there on that 'third day' waiting outside the tomb, watching this miracle take place?"
But their response is so...human. And when I look at my own heart, my words of criticism and judgment dissolve. I'm not so different from them.
As I wrestle through the life of faith, I'm thankful I follow the same Lord that they did. Who appears beyond the locked doors. Who graciously allows Thomas to touch him. Who meets me on the road and helps me understand. Who, even when I'm hobbling along, is faithful to keep His promises.