Do you realize that we are (in a small way) acting out the first Easter?
There were the Disciples hiding inside, and there's us stuck inside. They had some serious things to be afraid of. It wasn't a virus, or any other kind of disease. It was the authorities. If they were caught outside would they be arrested? Would the authorities try a mop up action to eradicate the followers of Jesus? Would they be put in prison or maybe even put to death?
It was a big step to even think about going out. The first ones were the women, heading to the tomb to care for the body of Jesus. They were more likely to be ignored by the authorities, and so they went; and arrived at the tomb; and met the angel; and heard the message that, "He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." (Luke 24:6-7)
They came back telling the message, but to the disciples "these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them." (Luke 24:11)
The next one to venture out was Peter who went to the tomb, saw the linen cloths and "went home marveling". (Luke 24:12)
Fear is a powerful motivator. It kept the disciples inside, behind closed doors. They did not let go of it very easily.
The next we hear about venturing out were two who decided later in the day to leave Jerusalem. It probably seemed like a good idea -- get away from the dangers in Jerusalem. And so they were walking to Emmaus (about 7 miles away). They could get there shortly before dark, and shelter in place until they could figure out what to do next.
As they went, Jesus came up and wanted to walk with them. (Luke 24:15) He told them the whole meaning of what had happened (while keeping them from recognizing Him). They needed the message. They needed to know why, and what it was all for. It had all been told by the prophets. He asked them, "Was it not necessary" for the Christ to "suffer these things and enter into His glory?" (Luke 24:26) And He interpreted the Scriptures and explained the plan of salvation. In this way Jesus lifted the fear and sadness off of them. And then He revealed Himself as He broke bread.
Hiding inside or venturing out? They raced back to Jerusalem. Who cares about authorities, arrest, prison, or anything else when you have seen the risen Lord. The authorities couldn't hold Him. Neither could the cross or the tomb. Death itself was powerless against Jesus.
So they came back to the disciples who were still hiding inside. They shared the news, what happened along the road, and in the house in Emmaus.
And then Jesus came to those "hiding-inside" disciples. It was time to lift their fear off of them -- and then they could venture outside.
Jesus came to them behind closed, locked doors. But they were frightened and thought He must be a ghost. (Luke 24:37)
He showed them His hands and His side and He invited them to touch Him. But they still "disbelieved for joy". (Luke 24:41)
Finally -- it was eating a piece of fish (broiled fish, to be precise) that dispelled the doubts and opened up the joy for them. (Luke 24:42-43)
Sometimes it is the right thing to shelter inside. We wait for the good news. We miss the freedom and long for the worries to be lifted. And when it happens it will feel so good.
In a small way we are experiencing the pattern of confinement and worry; one day to be followed by freedom and joy.
That first Easter was filled with tremendously powerful fear and worry -- followed by a joy and freedom that is absolutely immeasurable. It is a freedom and joy that has spanned almost 2,000 years. And it is a freedom and joy that will span all the years of eternity.
Lord Jesus, You lifted the fear and worry from the first disciples. You filled them with a joy that is beyond understanding, as You set them free from sin and death. Lord Jesus, help me to know the freedom I have in You so I can celebrate the joy of Easter every day through all time and eternity. Help me to have that joy through this day, and know that I too walk with the risen, living and victorious Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.