Could you imagine being reunited with a child that you thought was long-dead?
That was the unbelievable situation that Zella Jackson Price found herself in after meeting a daughter she hadn’t seen for nearly a half-century. When Price gave birth in a Missouri hospital in 1965, she was informed that her infant had died soon after delivery. For some unknown reason, her daughter, Melanie Diane Gilmore, had been given up for adoption. Price reported that she had been told that a twin had died, though she had given birth to only one child. She also reported that she had seen women nursing the wrong babies while she was in the maternity ward.
“There’s a lot of information they should have given me,” Price said. “I still have a lot of questions.”
Those questions would have to wait, however, as Price and her daughter were reunited in a flurry of hugs and endearments. Gilmore had been adopted by a loving family and flew in from Oregon to meet her biological mother, who still lives in Missouri. “God has given me everything the devil has taken from me,” Price said. “I’m getting it back. I’m getting my baby back.”
Like Zella Price who never expected to see her daughter, the disciples, on Good Friday, were convinced that they would never lay eyes on their Master again. Jesus was dead and, with Him, all their work and hopes.
Skeptics and atheists love to gleefully announce that Jesus is dead (if He even existed at all). There are even some preachers who doubt the reality of the empty tomb. In seminary, I remember a New Testament professor telling us that he did not hold to the historical resurrection of Jesus. He believed in a vague spiritual resurrection that somehow inspired the disciples to suddenly take courage and preach the Gospel. An African-American student thundered from the back of the room, “With all due respect, Professor, I don’t know about your Jesus, but mine rose from the dead!”
Now that’s good preaching. And it is that precise message that turned the followers of Jesus around and the world upside down. The women who tearfully trudged to the tomb expected to anoint a dead body. Instead, they encountered mysterious men in dazzling array with outrageous news:
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:5-6, NIV)
The women rushed back to Peter, John and the rest to report that the tomb was empty. Shock, disbelief and fear eventually gave way to joy, fortitude and purpose. Nothing could stop them now. They were living in resurrection power.
The disciples of Jesus still are. This world with all its sorrow and woe is determined to snatch away our hope, our reason for living. But that can’t happen, as long as we remember that He is alive and soon, very soon, we will be reunited.