I have often thought about what it would have been like to be a disciple on the day after Jesus died. What would a disciple have said, thought, and done during the time between Jesus’ burial and his resurrection from the grave? The Bible doesn’t provide much information. John 20:19 includes the most detail: Jesus’ disciples were hiding behind locked doors in fear of further reprisal.
I suppose I would have done the same. Jesus was brutally murdered by an angry mob. The Roman establishment did nothing to provide security; they carried out his shameful execution. As a disciple, I could have been next. I would have felt duped by all of Jesus’ kingdom talk.
On that day, I suppose I would have been cynical about his claims of deity. How is it possible for God to die? He had been clear about going to Jerusalem to do just that, but I would have considered that a metaphor. And surely any talk about him rising from the dead would have been lost in the fog of my grief. So there’s no doubt: I, too, would have been very scared for my own life, hiding in the dark, hurting over the loss of my leader, and hoping not to be the next martyr.
No More Hiding
But the bodily resurrection of Jesus and the filling of the Holy Spirit changed everything. The disciples were able to see, hear, and touch a Jesus who was resurrected and very much alive.
Later, in Acts 2, God the Holy Spirit is poured out on the followers of Jesus, and the church grows from 120 to over 3,000 in a single day. Faith replaces fear. The days of hiding in silence in a dark, secure room give way to a new reality marked by a bold, public proclamation to all that Jesus is the risen Lord.
Too many of us live as if Jesus were dead.
Acts 4 makes this transformation clear. The religious leaders take Peter and John into custody. The leaders threaten the disciples and tell them not to talk about Jesus—or else. These rulers must certainly have been some of the same men responsible for Jesus’ murder. Upon their release, however, the disciples immediately gather with friends to pray. Peter and John experience a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit, and they “continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). In other words, the same threat of martyrdom that originally sent them into hiding after Jesus’ burial now sends them out into the streets to preach the gospel after his resurrection.
Live Like He Is Alive
Too many of us live as if Jesus were dead. Like the disciples in John 20, we hide our faith behind locked doors, fearful of a world that both hates him and needs him. We fear the persecution and rejection for boldly talking about Jesus in our homes, neighborhoods, classrooms, and workplaces. These are the feelings and actions of a people that follows a dead Jesus.
But the true Jesus—our Jesus—is alive and on mission. And he invites you to boldly join him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Why continue to live as if he were dead?
Dave Bruskas is the network pastor for Mars Hill Church.