There is a difference between knowing an event occurred and knowing the meaning of the event. This was never more true than for the disciples trying to make sense of the resurrection of Jesus. There is an obvious progression - a sort of “dawning” of the resurrection - given by each gospel writer.
The immediate response to the resurrection was fear. This is not surprising since Jesus constantly created fearful situations for the disciples. According to John’s account the fear almost turned into paranoia - they always kept the doors locked! The disciples were afraid of being without Jesus, were afraid they wasted their time, and were afraid of the Jewish leaders. The constant word from God? “Do not be afraid!”
Fear gave way to a growing sense of disbelief among the disciples. They all were “slow to believe” and some became icons of disbelief - like “doubting” Thomas. Perhaps the saddest statement in Luke’s gospel is spoken by the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “but we had hoped…” Once your hope is gone there is nothing left to build a life of faith upon. Even with stories of resurrection being circulated among the disciples, none of them believed easily in the resurrection - their belief came as the mounting proof became overwhelming.
As disbelief melted away, a growing sense of hope returned to nurture their new found belief. They were still a long way from understanding it all, but they knew enough to celebrate!
As Jesus worked with them, explaining the Scriptures, they began to understand the power of the resurrection. The presence of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost intensified this understanding. They emerged as witnesses (Greek - martyrs) of the resurrection. Their lives caught fire from the Spirit and God used them to change the world.
Disciples today have the same resurrection power, the same fire from the Spirit, and the same mission that the early disciples had. Having experienced the resurrection of Jesus, we are witnesses, too! Arise and shine…