My third look at biblical new beginnings happens at what we call the first Easter. The disciples had had an undisclosed length of time as the disciples of Jesus, listening to him teach, watching him perform miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons. And after that Passover meal Jesus is arrested and their world comes crashing down. Most of them immediately run away. One of them commits suicide. And then they spend the weekend in lockdown, hidden in one room, ‘for fear of the Jews’.
As tough as it may have been for you during lockdown imagine an upstairs room with 11 men for the weekend, all worried about being arrested. Afraid to go out in case they were caught and lost their lives.
And then Jesus appears! It’s so easy to read the Gospel accounts, or to listen to them being read each year in church. But try to imagine that you don’t know what happens next: there have been reports of the tomb being empty; no one believes it (Peter and John go and see for themselves, but don’t know what to make of it); and then suddenly Jesus appears. And He tells them to not be afraid! Probably because they were terrified! They knew He was dead – no one survived a Roman crucifixion. They knew that dead people didn’t come back to life. And yet here was Jesus alive and well.
This was a whole new normal! What did it mean? How would life be different now? What would the future hold?
They are the questions we ask, but do we have that New Testament Christian experience of Jesus risen from the dead in our lives? I don’t mean, ‘Do we have faith?’ I mean, ‘Do we have that experience of Jesus in our lives?’ I don’t mean, ‘Do you go to church regularly?’ I mean, ‘Do you know that Jesus is your Lord and Saviour?’
Lord and Saviour is how the New Testament puts it. When I became a Christian almost 41 years ago I knew about Jesus being my Lord. I didn’t know the Bible too well, and I knew no theology, but I was reading as much of the Bible as I could, and it was about 6 months after I became a Christian that I discovered eternal life – life after death with Jesus. 6 months as a Christian before I realised that death was no longer an issue because I was ‘In Christ’, and ‘There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus’. It was like a whole new normal. I was saved in an instant, but it took months before I could live in the new normal.
I don’t know what this nationwide new normal will look like; if/when all the restrictions will be lifted. But I do know that the new normal that Jesus brings is much better than the old normal.
If you don’t know Jesus, take a serious look at what He offers and give him a try