Activated - - ACTIVATED - By Peter Am­s­ter­dam

It had been about three years since they had an­swered the call to fol­low Je­sus. Each had his own story. Nathanael was told he was “an Is­raelite in­deed, in whom is no de­ceit.” Peter and his brother

1 An­drew heard the words, “Fol­low Me, and I will make you be­come fish­ers of men,” while cast­ing their

2 nets into the sea. Matthew was sit­ting at his tax col­lec­tor’s booth.

3 The years that fol­lowed had been the most ex­cit­ing and in­tense years of their lives. Je­sus was the most in­cred­i­ble per­son they had ever known, and they loved Him deeply.

The things they wit­nessed were in­cred­i­ble—many mirac­u­lous heal­ings, de­liv­er­ances from de­monic forces, the feed­ing of thou­sands

4 with only a few loaves of bread and a few fish. There was also the day

5 when a fu­neral pro­ces­sion was com­ing down the street, and the Mas­ter was so moved by the dead man’s griev­ing mother that He stopped the pro­ces­sion, touched the cof­fin, and the young man sat up alive. And

6 that wasn’t the only time that Je­sus brought the dead back to life. There

was the girl who was dead when He en­tered the room and alive when He left it, and also Lazarus, who had

7 been dead for four days when Je­sus called him from his tomb.

8 There were times when He told such in­sight­ful sto­ries—sto­ries that held deep mean­ing and re­vealed great truths to those whose minds and hearts were open enough to un­der­stand them. Some­times He taught

9 the mul­ti­tudes who gath­ered round to hear what He had to say, and at one point those peo­ple were on the verge of tak­ing Him by force to make Him king. At other times, He took

10 His clos­est fol­low­ers away to a quiet place where they could rest and He could give them per­sonal teach­ing.

11 Th­ese were heady days in­deed. Of course, not ev­ery day was full of such won­der and ex­cite­ment. Some­times there was op­po­si­tion. His re­li­gious en­e­mies dis­agreed with what He taught and con­tin­u­ally chal­lenged Him, but His an­swers were filled with wis­dom, power, and most of all love. Ev­ery­thing about Him

12 was rooted in love and com­pas­sion.

As time went on, the op­po­si­tion grew stronger and His en­e­mies more de­ter­mined to stop Him. But then, right in the mid­dle of all that, there was the day when crowds from Jerusalem, joined by thou­sands of Passover pil­grims, met Him out­side the city walls, wav­ing palm branches and shout­ing, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” His re­li­gious op­po­nents

13 were afraid to touch Him be­cause of His pop­u­lar­ity, and feared that if the civil au­thor­i­ties had to step in, that would cost them their po­si­tions of promi­nence.

14 Those days had been ex­tra­or­di­nary—full of won­der, hope, ex­cite­ment, learn­ing, and love. His fol­low­ers prob­a­bly ex­pected that things would con­tinue that way for many more years.

Then sud­denly, ev­ery­thing changed. Je­sus was ar­rested, and less than 24 hours later He was ex­e­cuted as a crim­i­nal. Their dreams were dashed to pieces. The One they loved so deeply was gone. The life they had lived for the past three years was over. It seemed the fu­ture He had spo­ken of wouldn't work out. He was dead.

Sad, con­fused, and afraid, they hid be­hind locked doors. How abruptly it had all come to an end—the work they had par­tic­i­pated in, the love they had come to know so well. Ev­ery­thing changed al­most in­stantly. The fu­ture was bleak.

On the third day af­ter His ex­e­cu­tion, early in the morn­ing, some women who had fol­lowed Him vis­ited His tomb, but His body wasn’t there. When they told the other dis­ci­ples, no­body took them se­ri­ously ex­cept Peter and John, who ran to the tomb and con­firmed the women’s story. He wasn’t there! They didn’t un­der­stand what had hap­pened, but His body was gone.

15 Sud­denly Je­sus ap­peared in the midst of the room where they were hid­ing, be­hind locked doors. The Man they had loved and fol­lowed,

who had been bru­tally tor­tured and killed, was stand­ing be­fore them.

16 He was alive! He had risen from the dead and was back with them. His pres­ence changed ev­ery­thing. Though He had been ex­e­cuted as a crim­i­nal, the fact that He was stand­ing there alive val­i­dated ev­ery­thing He had told them about Him­self: that He was “the res­ur­rec­tion and the life,” that

17 He would be killed but would be raised to life again three days later.

18 The truth of those words was now ev­i­dent, be­cause He was there, alive. His pres­ence to­tally changed the con­text of the pre­ced­ing days, and they knew their faith hadn’t been mis­guided. God’s plan hadn’t been de­feated af­ter all.

Forty days later, Je­sus as­cended into heaven. He was no longer with them phys­i­cally, but the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell within them—a con­stant pres­ence guid­ing them in truth and love and in the shar­ing of all He had taught them and all they had wit­nessed dur­ing their time to­gether.

19 The won­der­ful days of liv­ing and work­ing to­gether with Him had come to an end, and the days of branch­ing out and reach­ing out to oth­ers had be­gun. His be­ing alive em­pow­ered them to move be­yond what they had been used to, to let go of how things had been and to ded­i­cate their lives to spread­ing His love and sal­va­tion to oth­ers. While it took time and ad­just­ment, they did what He had in­structed; they went to dif­fer­ent cities and coun­tries, meet­ing new peo­ple, mak­ing new friends, lead­ing oth­ers to Him. They built com­mu­ni­ties of faith, they taught oth­ers what He had taught them, they en­gaged in the mis­sion He had given them, day by day, heart by heart, year af­ter year. They faced dif­fi­cul­ties, tri­als, and tribu­la­tions, but they car­ried on even at the cost of their lives. In so do­ing, they pro­foundly af­fected the world of their day and ev­ery age since.

Al­though things had changed, and Je­sus was no longer present bod­ily, He was still able to do mir­a­cles; to bring the dead back to life; to give in­cred­i­ble an­swers to those in need; to show love, com­pas­sion, and mercy; to bring the good news of sal­va­tion. Only now, in­stead of Him do­ing it in per­son, He did it through them. He con­tin­ued to dwell in them and work through them, and He’s been and con­tin­ues to be just as alive in those who have loved and fol­lowed Him ever since.

Easter is a cel­e­bra­tion of the res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus. It’s a cel­e­bra­tion of His de­feat of death and hell and Satan. Je­sus re­deemed us from our sins. He lived and loved and died for us as in­di­vid­u­als, and He’s with us to­day in spirit just as much as He was with those He walked be­side two mil­len­nia ago.

There was a short time when His dis­ci­ples de­spaired, af­ter Je­sus had been cru­ci­fied and was no longer with them, but that cri­sis was

short-lived. The con­fu­sion, fear, and un­cer­tainty passed once they re­al­ized that He was alive, and that His love, truth, com­pas­sion, words, and power were still there with them, even though their phys­i­cal cir­cum­stances were dif­fer­ent.

No mat­ter what cir­cum­stances we are in, no mat­ter what changes have oc­curred, no mat­ter how dif­fi­cult things may be, He’s also alive in us. Wher­ever we are, His power and Spirit are with us. In what­ever cir­cum­stance, in what­ever sit­u­a­tion, whether we are in our home­town or some far-flung coun­try, He is with us and will work through us as much as we al­low Him to. Let’s show oth­ers that He is alive by let­ting them see His Spirit in us, by let­ting them hear His words through our words, and by let­ting them ex­pe­ri­ence Him through our loving ac­tions, com­pas­sion, and em­pa­thy. Let’s show them He is alive, even in to­day’s mixed-up, messed-up world, by help­ing them con­nect with Him.

Peter Am­s­ter­dam and his wife, Maria Fon­taine, are di­rec­tors of the Fam­ily In­ter­na­tional, a Chris­tian com­mu­nity of faith.

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