After the Cross
"After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
After Jesus' crucifixion, his friends and followers hid, fearful, and overcome by disappointment and grief. They'd lived and worked with him during his ministry, expecting he would eventually overthrow the Roman government and become king. Then, suddenly, he was betrayed, arrested, condemned, and crucified. They couldn't imagine he might come back to life and walk among them again.
After the cross – fear
"When the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" (John 20:19).
Fear is the emotion that keeps us in hiding and paralyzes us into inactivity. God knew we were going to struggle with fear because his word instructs us not to fear in over 300 verses. Boldly face life, knowing Jesus' sacrifice on the cross connects you to the power and protection of God the Father.
After the cross – doubt
"Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!" (Matthew 28:16-17).
When Jesus appeared to his disciples following his resurrection, Thomas was hesitant, not crowding around like the others. Was this man an imposter? Although he spoke like the friend and teacher Thomas knew, Thomas needed proof.
Doubt is our greatest obstacle in trusting God's plan and provision for our lives. We allow doubt to wash over us like ocean waves, clouding our vision and distancing us from the safety of shore. But Jesus is our anchor in a sea of doubt.
After the Cross – recognition
Cleopas and a companion traveled on the road to Emmaus. Jesus appeared and walked with them, but they didn't recognize him. They were overwhelmed by shock and grief, trying to process the events of preceding days. When they finally recognized Jesus, they were engaged in an everyday event—eating. As they broke bread with a man they thought was a stranger, recognition dawned.
Often we don't recognize God walking with us during difficulty unless we spend time in intimate fellowship with him, feeding on his word and listening for his voice instead of trying to make sense of what is happening on our own.
After the cross – joy
"The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel's message" (Matt 28:8).
The women experience two emotions at once—fear and joy—but their joy was greater than their fear. Often we do not rush to tell others about Jesus because fear wins. Instead, focus on the joy of salvation and share the good news.
After the cross – hope
"This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
Perhaps the disciples felt abandoned when Jesus returned to his Father. But he had commissioned them to spread the gospel so they didn't remain on the mountain awaiting his return. Although we have the promise of Jesus' return, he invites us to join him in what he is doing on earth now, sharing the benefits of life in Christ and the hope of eternity.
All of us are different after we encounter the cross. Although we still experience the fear and doubt Jesus' followers did after his crucifixion, we know Jesus isn't still hanging on the cross or lying in a tomb. He is alive and living in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rejoice!
© Candy Arrington 2013. Used with permission.
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Candy Arrington's publishing credits include The Lookout, Encounter, Focus on the Family, Clubhouse, The Upper Room, The Writer, and Writer's Digest. She is coauthor of Aftershock: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House Publishers). Candy and her husband, Jim, live in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she writes about the lessons God is teaching her. www.CandyArrington.com
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