This month we will remember with great thanksgiving the wonderful message that is Easter. Strictly Easter celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we are inclined to combine all the events of His betrayal, desertion, arrest, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection and call it The Easter Story. In this letter I want to pick up on one of those events and connect it with an event at the end of time.
Matthew writes one short sentence, “Then all the disciples left him and fled”(Mt. 26:56), but that is a horrific statement. At the time of Christ’s greatest need, those who had lived with Him, followed Him and been taught by Him simply thought more of themselves than they did of their Friend and Teacher. Thankfully most of them were to creep back and to follow at a distance, but they struggled with the events of Christ’s death and Resurrection. They were confused with what was going on in the person of Christ and undoubtedly they were embarrassed, if not ashamed by what was happening in their own attitudes and actions.
The glorious truth though is that Christ came to His disciples on a number of occasions. He came the night of His Resurrection, when the doors were locked. He came a week later to show Thomas that He was prepared to hear and respond to his demands to put his hands into the wounds of Christ. He came when it seems that Peter was ready to turn away completely and return to a life of fishing. On that occasion (Jn 21), Christ actually questioned Peter and re-instated him to a position of caring for the people of God, His sheep and His Lambs.
In many ways we can read a story like this and be very self-righteous, and be ready to point the finger at the disciples implying that we would never do such a thing, but again Scripture is clear that throughout history professing Christians will fall away. Paul makes this clear in 1 Tim 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,”. This has happened throughout history and anyone of us who has lived as a Christian for any length of time, has experienced the temptation ourselves and has sadly seen it happen in the lives of other Christians.
It can leave us feeling hopeless, but even before He died Christ looked beyond Easter to the end times and He makes this glorious promise – “he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Mt 24:31) I am not wanting to lull anyone into a false sense of security, leading to a complacency with sin, but just as Jesus followed Easter by re-grouping His disciples, so we have the assurance that not one of God’s chosen people will be lost. They have been bought by the blood of Christ; they are kept by the power and the grace of God and on that last day the messengers of God will gather them from the four winds and we have the assurance that we will then be forever with the Lord.
Easter is a horrible commentary on the fickleness of human nature and even on Christian living, but it is a glorious commentary on the insights and mercy of God. He will not let one of His children be lost or snatched away from Him. This Easter let us examine ourselves and acknowledge our own limitations, but let us cast ourselves on the glorious all-powerful saving grace of Christ, knowing that He has come to seek and save that which was lost.
Yours grateful for God’s keeping grace,