Have you ever been so surprised that your mouth dropped wide open? So stunned that your eyes could no longer focus? So taken aback by something crazy that you’ve just laughed? How would you react if your best friend, from Australia turned up at your dinner party – even though you knew that you weren’t going to see them for years – or perhaps ever. You’d be elated – of course! But first, wouldn’t you stand back, confused, although overwhelmed with joy?
Mary Magdalene knows exactly how this feels. Jesus, her Lord, her number one, on her list of priorities, was killed. She had to accept that she wouldn’t see Him again. To help her grief, she did what many still do – she went to His grave, to anoint it with oil, and pay her respects. On her way, she would have walked slowly, in the heat of the day, overwhelmed by grief, and anxious about having to face the guards, who were standing, and keeping watch over Christ’s body… It doesn’t look too good for her – and it certainly wont be a great day.
However, when she arrived, to her surprise she found the guards were asleep, and the stone to the tomb had been rolled away – this stone so heavy in weight, that she could not have done this. Nor anyone without great effort. At first, Mary began to fear in her grief, and became angry; someone had stolen His body… But this is not what had occurred.
An angel appeared, and told her that Jesus had risen from the dead! Now imagine how your’re feeling right now – Jesus, who was supposed to be dead, has risen and an angel was telling you not to fear… Not to fear?!! What will the guards think if they wake up? How will the others believe you? Where is Jesus?
In all of her weaknesses, Mary humbly obeyed the angel – who told her that Jesus had gone ahead of her, and that she was to tell His disciples. I don’t know about you, but this would have been something pretty amazing! I have this picture in my head, from a video I watched in church earlier this week, of Mary’s grief weakening, and being replaced with a beautiful, heartfelt smile. That makes me smile too – why? Because Jesus had risen, and Mary had encountered her Lord – the one she had put her faith in. Her faith was confirmed, and her grief washed away – not to mention how she was chosen, to go and tell the others. What an honour this would be! Mary’s joy was greater than any surprise guest at a dinner party – much greater!
The thing is, the same goes for me and you. Jesus has risen – He later appeared to Mary, and also turned up at dinner with the disciples! How awesome! He goes ahead of us, and He calls us to share the good news – what a blessing! In him, our grief is turned to joy – all it takes is faith. The rest is finished! Christ lives in heaven, seated on the right hand of God, praying for us, and interceding with us and God – there’s no longer any divide!
But what does it mean for today? It’s all good and well saying, “Jesus is alive, so I can go to heaven – great!” But as He rose, He brought a new perspective, a fresh start, and a world full of promise. By rising on the third day, Jesus overcame human power, and also the hold of death – when we die, our bodies will die, but our souls will be with God – gaining a new, perfect, and healthy body. We will be so glad and full of joy! Forever! But also, today, whilst we live on earth, it means that no longer do we have to regard ourselves according to the flesh – according to our weaknesses, appearance, or reputation. We are a new creation, taking our identity from Christ, and in Christ…
In the light of the resurrection, whatever we are in the flesh had died (all of our individual differences in looks, background etc) and we live as one in Christ. There may be beauty in flesh, but we gain a new, spiritual beauty and joy – this change that we see in Christ, leads to a change in how we see ourselves – and how we see others. We throw off everything that chains us, and enter a new life, of freedom, joy, hope, and companionship with Christ!
There’s a new life to live today – will you have faith?
I hope you’ve enjoyed the series, looking at why we need Easter, what the cross does for us, how Jesus’ words were significant, and what it means to believe in the resurrection! May you have a wonderful Easter weekend, and take some time to reflect.