But before all this, the soldiers on guard, terror-stricken by the earthquake that had taken place, and dazed at the sight of the “angel of the Lord” had fled at top speed to the chief priests with their startling story. Here was a wholly unexpected bothersome finish to the thing. But quick consultation follows. And then free use of money makes the soldiers willing to tell what they know to be a lie. And so the two utterly different stories, the truth and the lie, get into circulation at once. The soldiers and the chief priests’ circle have learned that the appointment was kept.
Meanwhile Peter has gone down the road back to town in a maze of conflicting emotions. John, lighter of foot, had hurried ahead, very likely to tell the great news to Jesus’ mother, now his own. Peter plods slowly along, thinking hard. It was still early morning, the air so still and fragrant with the dew. Maybe down by some big trees he is walking, absorbed, when all at once, some One is by his side. It’s the Master. The appointment has been kept with Peter. But we must leave them alone together. Peter has some things to straighten out. That’s a sacred interview meant only for him.
That afternoon two disciples walking out to a little village a few miles away are joined by a Stranger whose talk makes their hearts burn like the Master’s used to. And as they gather about the evening meal with Him, and He gives thanks and breaks the loaf, all at once their eyes see. It is Jesus Himself who has been with them all the time. Again the appointment is kept.
At once they hasten back to town, and are just telling the news in joyously broken speech to the disciples gathered in an upper room with locked doors when again, all at once, Jesus appears in their midst, and eats some bread and fish, and tells them to know by the feel that it is really Himself with them. He has kept His sacred appointment with the Twelve. Then a week later He comes in like manner among them again for the sake of one man, Thomas. So He keeps the appointment with Thomas, also.
Our Guarantee of His Promises.
Two things stand out sharply. The resurrection was not expected. It was the most tremendous surprise. The news was received at first by those most interested with utter stubborn unbelief. Then the evidence was so clear and repeated, and incontestable that these same men staked their lives on it. They suffered to the extreme for their witness that Jesus had indeed risen.
Jesus rose from the dead. His body was re-inhabited by His spirit. The spirit didn’t die. Spirits neither sleep nor die. The body died. Then life came into it again. It was a real body that could eat and be touched. It was recognized as the same one they had known. But it was changed. The old limitations were gone. New powers had come.
Jesus keeps His appointments. His pledged word never fails. Not a word He has spoken can ever be broken. Some day He is coming back. It is an appointment. Then we, too, who have slipped the tether of life and left our bodies temporarily in the dust, shall rise up again to meet Him. It is a sacred appointment He has made with us.