I don't know how many times I've read it, and yet I still find myself on the edge of my seat (so to speak) when I read the story of the resurrection of Jesus. I just read John 20-21 yesterday, and I felt drawn in by the obvious emotions of all the people involved in the story. I'm left open mouthed, somewhat awestruck by it all.
Go ahead, read it like you're there, like you're watching it happen. Read it slowly so you can imagine all that John describes as the story unfolds.
There's Mary, and it seems some other women, approaching the tomb in the early morning darkness, and as they get closer, something doesn't look right. Something's wrong.The stone has been rolled away! How? Why? Where's Jesus? Has someone desecrated His body? They run away, frightened at the thought of who else might be watching them in the darkness, and they find Peter and John and tell them what they saw. What could be happening after all the horrors of what happened on Friday?
Then there's Peter and John running to the tomb, with Mary desperately trying to keep up, running through the thinning darkness as dawn gradually approaches. They find the stone moved away just as Mary said, and inside are the linen cloths lying on the slab, with the facecloth folded there by itself. Who did this? And where is Jesus' body? Peter and John stumble home utterly confused and unsure what will come of what they've seen.
Mary is left standing outside the tomb, weeping now. Weeping because this has all been far too much these past few days, and all she wanted to do was to take care of Jesus' body so that He could have a proper burial. And now someone has deprived Him of even that.
Before we read on, it's worth pausing to ask if we ever feel the way Mary, Peter and John must have felt. Do we ever ask ourselves or ask God, "What's going on? This doesn't make sense! I want to find You, Lord. I feel so alone."
That's how Mary felt. I'm sure it's how Peter and John felt too. So when Mary suddenly saw a man she thought to be the gardener, she asked him if he could help her find Jesus amidst all her confusion. Then that gentle man said to her, "Mary!" and her eyes were opened! It was Jesus! There's Jesus! Alive! Standing right in front of me, speaking to me! So she fell at His feet and clung to Him with tears of joy! But Jesus told her she must go and tell the disciples that He was alive.
Again, we've got to stop and ask if it's possible that Jesus is standing right in front of us and we haven't even recognized Him. All He needs to do is say our name – and how thrilling it is when we hear Him say our name – and we see Him standing there! We see Him where we couldn't see Him before and our alarm and despair dissipate, just as the darkness does as the sun begins to rise. We still may not understand what's going on, but it's enough to see Him standing before us, speaking to us softly and lovingly. A Light has come and we find such comfort in His light.
There's so much more we could explore from this story – a story I never get tired of imagining. Wouldn't it have been something to personally witness the resurrection? But perhaps in a way, we can, right here and now.
I believe God wants us to experience the excitement of that morning every time we discover the risen Christ amidst confusing and troubling circumstances of our own life. He's there even when we don't recognize Him. But to make sure we do, He speaks to us in a voice we can't mistake – a voice that provides all the comfort we need! And though He may not answer a single question we have, it feels enough to know that Jesus is indeed alive, loves us, and still remains our glorious Lord and Saviour!
© 2014 by Ken Peters