Easter in a Covid-19 Environment

Dear Nav Family,

A little over 2000 years ago tonight, the disciples ate the Last Supper, and the next day Jesus was crucified. Jesus had told his disciples that he would be killed, that he could even be crucified, but the disciples didn’t really understand. They didn’t really get it. We know the end of the story. We know Jesus rose on Easter day, but they didn’t. It’s so familiar to us, we can miss the devastation, the disorientation, the debilitating effect it had on the disciples. They had seen so many miracles right before their eyes – healing, walking on water, food from nowhere, raising the dead and hearing incisive teaching from a confident public figure – so it would have been unthinkable to acknowledge that anything could ever change.

But overnight, the disciples’ world collapsed. They had eaten Passover together on Thursday night. But only a few hours later, Jesus was under arrest. A hasty trial in the high priest’s palace condemned Jesus. Then early-morning shuttles to Pilate, then Herod, then back again to Pilate sealing his fate. By 9 am soldiers were pounding nails into his hands and feet, jerking him upright on a cross to let him hang in the sun … until the sun itself hid its face and left the onlookers to watch the Master die in the eerie chill of what seemed to be a very, very black day.

We only know that John of the Twelve was with Him while He was on the cross and none remained to see him buried. Showing great compassion and loyalty, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of Joseph and a couple of wealthy followers were left to take his body down, carry it outside the city, and entomb it.

If you’ve ever felt despair in the pit of your stomach, then you know what the disciples felt. When they went out, they would walk in a kind of daze, utterly disoriented, shattered, the centre of their world now a black hole, an empty void.

How could the Messiah, the heir of David’s throne, be executed? It went against all logic. It was impossible — yet it had happened, and everything happened so swiftly!

The disciples didn’t have the perspective of God. They didn’t get it. It felt like everything was out of control. What was God doing? And yet, as we now know, it wasn’t “out of control” even though it appeared disastrous. The Lord God was in complete control as Acts 4:27-28 says: “truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place”.

And it’s the same with the corona virus. We don’t know the end of the story. And it sure does feel like things are out of control. Or perhaps too under control of the government that is restricting meeting with family who don’t live with us over Easter, and no gathering to remember the most significant events in world history – Jesus’ death and resurrection. But God is in control.

And I pray, in the midst of this difficult time, that you would be salt and light, bringing hope and peace to those you minister to and their families. A calming, stable influence pointing to Jesus as you cling to the fact that God loves us more than we can comprehend, which is most supremely demonstrated at Easter.

For the glory of God,

Grant Dibden

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