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Sunday After Easter: Coming Late to the Party

By Howard W. Roberts

 John 20:19-31

It's party time! This is not the season of the year when we normally think of parties. Parties we associate with Christmas or New Year, or celebrating an event like a wedding or retirement.

Yet in the lives of followers of Christ, this is the party season; when people have said their loudest, sternest, clearest "No," God says, "Yes." At Golgotha, people did their best to say "No" to God with great forcefulness.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, God -- with greater forcefulness -- said "Yes"!

Nobody expected that.

Pilate said "No" in his hall of judgment, hastily washing his hands. The Roman army said "No" with its bloody, public execution. Custom said "No" with its borrowed grave, sealed with a huge stone rolled in front of it.

The women came to the grave, but their word was a sad "No" because they came only to embalm the body. Peter and John later ran back to the tomb, but that was because earlier they had gone away, given up, withdrawn, said "No" with their feelings.

Two on the Emmaus road had said "no" and left town, the garden, the grave. They had hoped Jesus was the one but they left town with a disappointed "No" on their lips.

In the upper room, the rest of the group gathered, hiding out in fear and grief. Jesus was gone; they would be next. Theirs was a terrified "No." Unanimously -- among friend and foe alike -- the word of the hour was "No."

So when it happened -- God's "Yes" -- nobody was sitting by the graveside, standing by the rock, or even hiding nearby in the bushes. And God -- as He often does because of our dullness and disbelief -- came up on their blind side. Hope slipped in and surprised them.

No wonder Easter is the high-water mark of the Christian year. No wonder churches are crowded Easter Sunday. What a reason to celebrate! What a party!

And look at the guest list! God is so extravagant as to invite everybody to the party. You would think God would be a bit more selective, but we are evidence that God will invite anybody.

The party was last week. That was Easter. The pews aren't nearly as full today. Resurrection, the party day, has come and gone.

Have you ever been late for a party? I don't like to be late for a party because I miss out on part of the fun. I have trouble catching up with everyone emotionally. Someone makes a reference to a previous statement. Everyone laughs but me. I don't get the humor because I was late.

Today is like coming late to the party. We recall some of the excitement of last week, but we are missing the enthusiasm, the swell of emotion, the elation of a sanctuary filled with worshipers. This is identified as Low Sunday on the Christian calendar. It is low Sunday emotionally and numerically. We might not notice the numerical low so readily if it were not for what happened last Sunday.

One of the early disciples of Christ can help us with our journey today. Thomas came late to the party. He missed Easter by a week.

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