There is a thread of alarm running through the Easter story.
You can read it in the first verse of John Chapter 20. Mary stood outside the tomb, before the sun had lifted its head to turn the horizon red, and saw that the stone—a stone too heavy for anyone to move—had indeed been moved.
Everything that took place from the Last Supper to the Empty Tomb caused a mixture of distress and wonder, leaving those closest to the Christ alarmed, doubting, scattered, tentative—and hopeful.
Jesus spent much of his earthly ministry foretelling his death, burial and resurrection. It was a warning. And as warnings often are, it seemed like very bad news. His disciples recoiled at the thought of his possible capture, persecution, and death.
Was it true? Jesus would be among those to fall under the harsh hand of Roman rule? Would their heavy swords come to punctured blows against their leader?
It was hard to believe.
Jesus, a man of promise, told them exactly what would happen. In his kindness, he even explained why.
“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.” (John 13:19)
I will be betrayed. They will kill me. I will rise again on the third day.
It’s a classic three-point message. One that could fit a Twitter feed. He kept it simple so the simplest among them could follow along, and when these three points were fulfilled, continue to follow him.
It may seem a simple message, but the reality was hard to bear. They watched after Judas betrayed him, stunned at point one, standing in a grove watching their bound Messiah, and blood dripping from what was left of a soldier’s ear.
The good news is, Jesus told them the truth. This was also the bad news. If they believed his other warnings, it would get much worse before it got better.
It got worse. Jesus cried out his last words before his death. The death of which he warned. “It is finished.” They had captured, persecuted, and killed him. Point two complete.
The stunned disciples and followers of Jesus were probably too distressed to consider the three-point message. Stuck at point two and the shock of it all.
While the disciples came back from behind pillars that hid them, back from their scattering to discuss what to do next; Jesus did what came next.
He arose. Quietly. He waited until the hazy head of the red sky edged upon the horizon. Until Mary looked into the tomb and heard the voice of the angel say, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
It’s a three-point message we can live by. He made it so simple that it’s easy to believe.
“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.”
It was true. It got much better. Bad news became good.