The Missing Disciples of Easter

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Another Easter is here—the greatest day of the year to remember and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Wouldn’t it be a disappointment to miss it?

Did you know that Scripture tells us about several people who actually missed the very first Easter? Not only that, it also tells us why they missed it—and what they could have done to prevent that.

In one sense, we can’t be too hard on just these three missing disciples. Remember, in the moment of our Savior’s greatest crisis, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). So, surely we could come up with even more examples if we tried.

But, of the three we’re going to examine, the first disciple to miss Easter certainly had the strangest experience of all. It’s recorded in Mark 14:51–52, and it ended when he “fled … naked” from Jesus’ enemies. This disciple was ashamed of Jesus—and it led to even greater shame!

It is commonly believed that this “certain young man” (v. 51) was Mark himself. We know that Mark later had another lapse in his service for the Lord, but that he was also restored “for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11; see Acts 15:36–41). Perhaps recollecting that original moment of shame was part of the process of his restoration to service.

If only he had remained faithful that first time to see Jesus, the Son of God, on the cross, paying for the sins of mankind, so that all who trust in Him alone can freely receive the forgiveness of their sin and eternal life in heaven with Him … who later rose from the dead—what grief he could have saved himself! 

The second example of a missing disciple was one who was veiled in secrecy—apparently just the way he or she wanted it. This person spent Easter afternoon walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Some believe this one to be the wife of Cleopas (Luke 24:18), but no one can know for certain. Perhaps the person’s identity is hidden out of mercy—considering the stern rebuke for unbelief he or she received from the resurrected Jesus (vv. 25–26).

The risen Christ is alive and ready to receive you, in spite of all your faults and failings, if you will simply look to Him in faith.

And yet Christ gave Cleopas and his unnamed friend perhaps the greatest theology lesson in the history of the faith (v. 27)! Just think of what more they would have missed, were it not for the Savior seeking them out when they were not seeking Him.

If only Mark would have continued with Jesus to the cross—we might say in hindsight—or if only the unnamed traveler to Emmaus had simply accepted the authority of the Scriptures all along, their problems would have been avoided. Those words are so easy for us to mouth but so much more difficult to live by—even though we today possess the completed canon of Scripture in front of us, and the testimony of 2,000 years of Christian history behind us.

Our final example is that of a man who missed Easter due to his own skepticism. This was the apostle Thomas.

Thomas had earlier pledged his commitment to follow Christ all the way to death (John 11:16). And he wanted to be confident that he understood how to follow Jesus—even beyond this life (14:1–6).

But now, when he really should have known better, Thomas was skeptical regarding the resurrection (20:24–25). Perhaps that is why he hadn’t joined the rest of the apostles on Easter night. And his skepticism earned him a nickname that he has never lived down: “Doubting Thomas.”

The rebuke that Jesus ultimately gave him was utterly brilliant—pointed, but instructive and wholly merciful (vv. 26–29). Thomas quickly halted his challenge. He had learned that the resurrection was real—but he missed the blessing we can gain by accepting that truth immediately (v. 29). 

Are you in danger of missing Easter this year? Are you missing it in shame, or out of a desire for secrecy, or because of your skepticism?

The risen Christ is alive and ready to receive you, in spite of all your faults and failings, if you will simply look to Him in faith. 

Trust in Him to forgive your shame, to overcome your secrecy, and to answer your skepticism. 

And, then, you won’t have to miss Easter!

About the Author
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Paul Scharf

Paul is a Church Ministries Representative in Columbus, Wisconsin. You can support his ministry here.

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