“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’, and she told them all that he had said to her.” (John 20:18, NRSV)
In the gospel writer John’s story of Jesus’ resurrection, Mary Magdalene arrives at Jesus’ tomb early in the morning while it’s still dark. Finding the stone covering the tomb rolled away, she assumes
someone has taken Jesus’ body. She runs to tell the other disciples. Peter and John race back to the garden tomb, where inside, they find the burial cloths neatly folded in place of where Jesus’s body would have lain. In shock and bewilderment, the disciples return home, leaving Mary Magdalene in the garden alone and weeping.
Mary Magdalene eventually musters the courage to look inside the tomb. Instead of finding neatly folded linens as Peter and John did, she finds two angels. They ask, “Why are you weeping?” She replies, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”
Then, sensing someone behind her, Mary turns and sees another stranger there. He also asks about her weeping. She explains she came to prepare Jesus’ body for final burial, but it’s gone, and so if he could tell her where it is, she would be grateful. Then Jesus calls her by name, and she sees him in all his glory. Jesus is alive!
What difference does it make that God raised Jesus from the dead? First, we are no longer captive to our sinful desires, for God has set us free from the power of sin. Although sin still tempts us, we develop an ever-increasing resolve to avoid evil as our hearts grow closer to God. While we never completely overcome sin with our willpower, Jesus’ righteousness covers the gap.
Second, we are empowered to live like Jesus did—loving the poor, the sick, the prisoner, and the stranger. Jesus died for all, and since his love extends to everyone, we are to love those whom God loves and help them find the abundant life Jesus promised us.
Third, even though others may attack us for standing with the outcast and marginalized, we have the assurance that Jesus stands with us. Serving Jesus and loving others is countercultural, and so our faithful living is likely to put us at odds with others. When we live out Jesus’ commands, he promises to be with us.
Finally, not even death can separate us from the love of God; therefore, we have nothing to fear. The fear of death represents worldly power because war incites the fear of losing our lives. If we no longer fear death, then principalities and powers no longer control us. Jesus’ death and resurrection have conquered death once and for all.
Join us for all our services this week as we journey with Jesus through the last days of his life on earth. Having been through experiences of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we’ll discover an even greater joy on Easter morning!