Jesus Rose Again to Give Me Life
Three years ago, I was sitting on this same porch “sheltering in place” during the Covid quarantine. Friends had already contracted the strange nova virus. Deaths had occurred. Everyone was on edge with deepening concern. More than any other concern, I literally could NOT believe that we would not be able to gather in the Lord’s House to celebrate the resurrection together as a church family. In all my years, I had never missed being there for that celebration of life. I know my momma took me in her womb that April just before I was born in May. I’ve been going ever since!
Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, twenty centuries earlier, the disciples of Jesus were sheltering in place for a very different reason. It was Sunday morning, the first day of the six-day work week. Two days earlier, they had watched their Savior give His life on the cross. They were sheltering in place in fear that the same thing might happen to His followers at the hands of the Roman soldiers, the Roman governor, or the Jewish leaders.
Just before sunrise, Mary Magdalene had made her way in the dark to what she thought would still be the stone-sealed tomb of her best friend, Jesus. Assuming His body had been stolen in the night, she ran to tell Peter and the boys. John (un-named, but who else could it have been?) and Peter foot-raced to the tomb to verify this potential nonsense. John stooped down to look inside and saw empty grave clothes. Peter went inside to see more clearly. The grave clothes were there, but not the body of Jesus.
Then, John entered, saw, and believed. Believed what?!? Jesus was alive! Jesus had kept His promise! Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes at His birth. Jesus was wrapped in swathing cloths at His death. Like a precious gift, Jesus came wrapped at His birth and at His death. Oh, what a gift!!!
Mary Magdalene must have taken third place in the foot race. After the two disciples returned to their own homes, Mary was still there. She was weeping. According to the other three gospel writers, she, and some of the other women followers of Jesus had come to finish anointing His body after the hasty burial on Friday. As she wept, she looked into the tomb. She saw two angels inside. They were both dressed in white. One was standing at the head of the slab of stone where Jesus’ body had been and the other one was standing at the foot. “Woman, why are you weeping?” “They have stolen the body of Jesus!”
Mary turned around and there stood Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him. Why not?!? Different body? Lack of expectation? Tear-filled eyes? She thought this “man” must be the caretaker of the garden. “Woman why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” “The body of Jesus has been stolen!” Then……Jesus spoke her name. WOW. What a moment. She called Him “teacher.” Jesus gave her a message for the followers. As always, quick to be obedient, she returned to the place where they had been sheltering since Friday. I believe that would have been the Upper Room. Scripture says, “Mary came announcing.” What a privilege for her to be able to bring the good news about the resurrection.
Mary was right about Jesus being the caretaker of the garden. He made the Garden of Eden. He prayed in Garden of Gethsemane. He was raised from the Garden Tomb. One day, I believe, He will let us help Him tend to the Garden of the Tree of Life along the River of Life in New Jerusalem.
Mary was also blessed to be the one to see those two angels inside the empty tomb. That sight made her the first person able to connect the Old Testament dots revealed in the tabernacle built by Moses. Inside the holy of holies was the Ark of the Covenant. The lid or covering on the Ark was called the Mercy Seat. There were two angels on the cover looking downward. Once a year, that holiest place was entered by the High Priest. Blood would be sprinkled on that cover, first for the for the sins of the High Priest himself and then for the sins of the people. That blood of animal sacrifice was a temporary offering with a prophetic look forward. Mary was shown the true mercy seat: the blood of our Savior was right there on the stone with two angels attending.
John 20:1 says that Mary came to the tomb “while it was still dark.” Scripture says that Jesus cast out seven demons that had control of Mary Magdalene, saving her and setting her free. She learned how to come out of the darkness. Now she had no fear of it. Jesus came to bring the whole world out of darkness into light.
We serve a living Savior and that makes ALL the difference.