by Brittany Osborne, Children’s Ministry director at our Pulaski campus
Because He Lives (John 20: 1-18)
It is early morning just before the sun will begin to rise on the third day, and Mary Magdalene, in the company of other women (here only she is named as it was customary to identify a group only by the name of the leader), walks to the tomb with fragrant spices (Luke 24:2). As they walk in grief toward the tomb to show their continued devotion to Jesus they wonder, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:3) John 20:1 tells us that when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb the stone had been taken away. Although not mentioned here, as told in the Synoptic Gospels Mary looks in to the tomb to find Jesus’ body was not there. In a rush of emotion she runs to Peter and John and says, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” What had happened to Jesus’ body? It was not uncommon for graves to be robbed. After all Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man and he had personally wrapped Jesus in clean linen. He was the one who laid Jesus, just two days ago, in the tomb that he had carved with his own hands.
As Peter and John run toward the tomb they too must have been considering the many different possibilities of where Jesus’ body had been taken or what was being done to it; but at this point it does not seem that resurrection had crossed any of their minds. Although John, Jesus’ beloved disciple, arrives to the tomb first he respectfully allows Peter to go in to the tomb before him. As they look at the placement of the grave clothes it does not appear that robbers had disturbed the tomb. When John entered the tomb “he saw and believed, for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” He knew the Old Testament scriptures and he had heard Jesus say he would come back from the grave, but it was not until that moment that he understood the Messiah had to rise from the dead. The tomb was not just empty – Jesus was alive!
John and Peter return to their homes but Mary remains weeping outside the tomb. Then she stands and looks into the tomb to see two angels in white sitting at the head and foot of where Jesus’ body had laid. They ask her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Then just as she replies, “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him,” she turns and Jesus is standing there. She mistakes him for the gardener, but then he lovingly calls her by name. Jesus says, “Mary” and she turns immediately knowing his voice. “Rabboni!” she says as her tears of grief become tears of joy. She then goes as Jesus tells her to his brothers, the disciples, and says, “I have seen the Lord,” and He said, “I am ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God.”
The tomb was not just empty, but John realized Jesus was alive! He lives today and continues to call those He loves by name. On this day we celebrate His resurrection from the grave and His defeat of sin by conquering death on the cross! He is the Perfect Lamb that was slain for you and me. How does knowing that Jesus lives draw you to worship Him today? Is it evident in our day-to-day life that He lives and enables us to live with a hope that is eternal?
In John 10:17-18 Jesus says, “For this reason my Father loves me, because I lay down my life of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Jesus willingly bore the cross. It was not forced upon Him and He never had to do it. However just as the Father loved Him, so He loved us. His love is what led and held Him to it. He also had the authority to take His life up again and He rose from the dead – for you and me ,so that we might believe. Now when He calls our name, we know His voice – He is our Good Shepherd, our Risen King, and Lord of all! There is no greater love that we could ever possibly know. So today as we celebrate the Resurrection may we love Him by honoring and adoring our Majesty. To Him be all the glory forever and ever, Amen.