Depending upon which historian you reference, Jesus was crucified some time around 30 AD. After hearing the disturbing news that the Coronavirus death toll has surpassed 15,000 in the United States and over 450,000 throughout the world, my mind was drawn back in time to the first Passion Week. Immediately following the emotional high of Palm Sunday, a series of events gradually turned the tide from celebration to sadness. You might want to compare your own weekend to what happened to the disciples.
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing, John 21:1-3.
First, Judas Iscariot exchanged his relationship with Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. When asked to pray for Jesus in his greatest moments of need, the remaining 11 disciples all fell asleep. After initially fighting to save their leader from being arrested, Jesus turned himself in. Moments later, fearful for his own life, the man given the nickname the rock, caved to peer pressure like the cowardly lion, denying knowing Jesus three times publicly. Only John, the beloved one was present in the final hours, standing by helplessly as Jesus as died on a cross. To make matters worse, Judas committed suicide after being overwhelmed by a spirit of guilt.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep, John 21:15-17.
If you flash back to the first Easter Sunday, Peter abandoned the ministry, going back to his old job as a fisherman. Instead of having a sunrise service, Peter went fishing in the middle of the night. Bringing a couple of the disciples along, they didn’t catch anything, a painful reminder of their epic failure. When providing instructions from the shore about fishing, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus. However, after their great haul of fish, their eyes were opened to the resurrected Messiah. As you celebrate Easter in a different way, post Coronavirus, may your own eyes be open to the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit.
by Jay Mankus