April 1, 2020
The Liberating Light of the Gospel
An Easter Devotional
Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston
Early one Sunday morning some two thousand years ago, following the
Passover of the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth was physically, bodily raised from the
dead! According to the Gospels, the first witnesses among His followers were a
few women who dared to honor His Name.
His other disciples were hiding from the religious authorities that had arrested
and crucified Jesus a couple days before.
Each of these men had pledged to ‘follow the Lord,’ even unto death if need be,
but each had failed and fled before the soldiers who arrested their Master that
fateful Passover night.
Hiding out in an undisclosed location in Jerusalem, these disciples had locked
the doors for fear of being discovered, arrested and possibly executed.
In some sense of the word, fear had ‘quarantined’ these disciples.
However, while they tried to lock the world out, they themselves were the ones
jailed by their own fears, their worries and their guilt.
These disciples were ashamed of their own cowardice in the face of that evil
persecution that always opposes God’s righteousness.
Did the disciples speak kindly to one another in the tortured hours of their
Did they forgive each other for their shameful abandonment of the One who had
opened blind eyes, fed thousands with but a few loaves of bread,
and even raised the dead?
Could they look at each other without the guilt that such betrayal brings,
especially since they were chosen by the Master to be His disciples?
We can be assured that even as Peter wept with the realization of his three
denials, when the rooster crowed at the exact moment he said, “I don’t know
the Man!” that he, like each of these other men, could not forgive himself.
Ancient Christian mystics used to speak of the ‘dark night of the soul’ as a
reference of the kind of doubting, torment and struggle that these failed
How often do we ourselves struggle with a sense of spiritual failure, of unbelief
in the love and sovereign care of God?
Who among us has not encountered something that paralyzed us with fear, or
had an experience that tossed us into irrational panic, doubt and distress?
Have we not all betrayed the Lord because of our lack of faith?
We worry about our health. We worry about our money. We worry about our
home. We worry.
With such worry we plant the seeds of betrayal. Doubt entertained finally
causes despair to flourish, and with despair there comes an abandonment of
hope. Too often we run to the darkness of some ‘locked room’ to hide from the
consequences of our failure.
How many of us are imprisoned by a dependence on alcohol, drugs or
something else due to some painful life experience? How many of us have
hungered for acceptance but instead, experienced rejection?
Who amongst us has abandoned their faith thinking that they are unlovable,
even by God?
When we cloister ourselves behind ‘locked doors’ due to our worries, fears and
doubts, we become like those first disciples who professed faith in Christ, yet
denied His promises and power.
The great Apostle to the Gentiles understood this when he wrote;
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer
loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute,
or in danger, or threatened with death?” (Romans 8:35)
The answer is obvious. God loves us and cares for us.
Paul continued in his letter to the Romans;
“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who
loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor
our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from
God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in
all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed
in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans. 8:37-39)
If the Gospel record of Jesus physical Resurrection had ended with only the
witness of the women, we would not have Christianity today.
It was the witness of Christ Himself that broke through the self-imposed
imprisonment of the disciples.
With the bodily entrance of Jesus into that ‘locked room’ the fears, worries, and
most importantly, the guilt, of those men were instantly relieved.
Their Master had prophesied their betrayal. The Lord had understood from the
beginning the frailty of the human heart. Jesus came to save sinners, such as
those who were hiding in that darkened room.
He is still finding those who are in-hiding today!
Because the Lord Jesus Christ is alive, we have the authority to leave the
locked rooms of our self-imposed captivity and enter into the light of eternal life
Easter Morning is about such an exit from darkness and an entrance into light!
This Easter Sunday, let’s thank the Lord for His glorious salvation. Let’s step
away from the darkness that locks us up and enter into the liberating light of
the Gospel. Then, let’s tell others that Jesus is alive!’