April 11, 2020
A MIRACULOUS RESURRECTION
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He was talking about having finished what God the Father had sent Him to do on the Cross, that is to Redeem us from our sin. The work of being the Sacrificial Lamb was finished. However, there was so much more to do before He returns as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
On that first Easter morning Jesus’ friends were anxious about getting to the tomb and preparing His body properly for burial. They had no way of knowing the surprise that awaited them.
There are many Scriptures that are available to us that show where Jesus talks about the future and eternal life. In the Gospel John alone there are these: John 5:21, 6:48, 51, 8:12, 10:14, 15, 17-18, 11:25-26, 16:20, 22, 33. Jesus speaks many times of Eternal Life, and the Life we can have through His death on the cross.
As our Hymn of Gathering this morning reminds us up from the grave He did arise! And He has triumphed over his foes. Jesus had been laid in the tomb and was certainly dead. The Roman soldiers and the Roman system made sure that. If a Roman soldier were to let someone be removed from a cross before he was dead, the soldier would have to take that person’s place on the cross. So, anyone taken down from the cross was surely dead. His friends laid Him in the tomb with tears in their eyes. Their beloved Friend, Rabbi and Lord was dead. Now what?
For the people who loved Jesus the darkness of the early Easter morning must have been stifling. No Joy, no energy, no future. What do they do now? What do they do next? For us, many times, we feel this same feeling. There is no Joy to be had. The bills are coming in, what do we do now? Scripture? Those are just words on a page, aren’t they? Or are they? There is a difference in the Words on these pages in our Bibles and the words in a novel. The Words on the pages of our Bibles are “Alive and living and sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Hebrews 4:12) And if you will let them, they will come Alive and will bring Life to you.
Now let’s look at the Scripture for today, John 20:1-18 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
10 Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
While it was still dark, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and some more women, Salome, and others (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1) went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body properly. But, upon arrival they discovered that the stone had been rolled away from the opening of the tomb and Jesus’ Body wasn’t there.
They returned as fast as they could to tell Simon Peter and John what they had discovered. The big news wasn’t that the tomb was open, but that Jesus’ body was gone and they didn’t know where to find Him. After all they had gone through at the crucifixion… and now this.
Hearing the news, Peter and John ran to the tomb. John always points out that he arrived there first, having outrun Peter. 1) When John arrived, he looked in and saw the strips of linen lying there, but he didn’t go in. 2) Peter then arrived and went into the tomb to get a better look. 3) Then John went in and saw what was going on and believed.
There are three events in the previous paragraph that need closer examination. First John looks in and SEES the strips lying there. This was a cursory look, without close examination. Then Peter goes in and SEES the burial clothing and sees that Jesus is missing and begins to think about what is going on. Third, John goes in and SEES and Believes, comprehends, remembers that Jesus said He would rise from the dead… and it has happened.
Then, after John and Peter leave, Mary Magdalene investigates the tomb again, and low and behold there are two gleaming, white angels sitting there at the head and foot of where Jesus would have been lying. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” they knew Mary had only reason to rejoice, if she knew and understood the truth. This question also allowed them to enter into a conversation with Mary.
She then turned around and saw Jesus! However, her reaction didn’t rate an exclamation point. She still didn’t understand the big picture. How many times do you sink into depression only to find out you really didn’t need to react that way? You had not seen the big picture, yet.
“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Jesus was speaking to her, but she didn’t recognize Him. She thought He was the Gardener. Have you ever seen someone in a place where you usually don’t see them and you know they look familiar, but you don’t quite put the name with the face?
Then came the magic word, her name… “Mary.” Her name, in that voice, and she snaps into reality. Immediately she responded, She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” Rabbi, it’s you!! How her heart must have leapt. Here He was. Standing in front of her.
As an aside: have you ever noticed the place in The Revelation that talks about our heavenly name? Revelation 2:17 – He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. When we get to heaven we will have a name that only you and Jesus know. It’ll obviously be a very special name. And we will immediately recognize He is speaking to us individually when He calls it. Maybe that was something like what happened to Mary, she heard her name in that special voice, the Voice of God.
Then what Jesus says to here contains three instructions: 1) “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. 2) Go instead to my brothers and 3) tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Don’t’ hold on; Go; and Tell. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Don’t sit around thinking about it and holding on too tightly to Him? We’re supposed to Go and Tell. Go tell it on the mountain. Shout it from the roof top. Shout it from the mountain top!
Of course, today, being under Quarantine, we can’t go shout too much, can we? Is it building up in you? Don’t you want to get together again with all your sisters and brothers and Praise God in unison? It’s coming. But for today, know He sees the big picture, and this is all just one piece of the tapestry that is our life in Christ.
Bostwick UMC 4/12/20