Take a few minutes to push the “pause” button on whatever is going on around you and be still with God.
John 20:1-18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Jesus, the heart of the Gospel, unmercifully abused, crucified, put to man’s death, but rose up from man’s death sentence, more than two thousand years ago. He proved His Lordship over all the world, including death.
Then, and it is true today, people searched for Him in sadness and fear, coveting assumptions, instead of practicing great faith. Mary Magdalene overcame some fear as she purposed to tend to Jesus…in the tomb. She was the first, there. She discovers the stone, that was to be a huge obstacle, was rolled away. She feared, in her ‘human-ness’, that someone had stolen Jesus. Here, fear caused conclusions, assumptions, and so she grieved from the loss. Mary runs to tell Peter what she assumed had occurred.
Peter, accompanied by an unnamed disciple, often referred to as “the one whom Jesus loved”, was the first to enter the tomb. Peter confirms the tomb is empty of the body of Jesus, but still unsure in his flesh of what had happened. Mary, then enters the tomb, and determines the tomb is not fully empty but that there are two angels, and she repeats her assumption (interpretation) of Jesus’ body having been stolen. Then Mary sees a man, assumed to be a gardener, yet he called her by name. He asks Mary who was she looking for? By His calling her by name she moved past her assumption to belief. She knew the old story had ended and the new beginning was taking place.
The disciples, who were not initially rejoicing, had not yet connected the dots of prophecy and the empty tomb. They, too, chose assumption over faith, but later when Jesus invited them to see proof for themselves, their faith was renewed, for they ‘had seen the Lord’. Their assumption, that stifled their faith, was now overcome by proof of prophecy fulfilled. They, too, witnessed the new beginning and they witnessed the power of faith over anything else.
Have our assumptions, our interpretations, of the Lord’s prophecies and promises and of His power, weakened our faith? Do we replace what He said with what we feel and/or fear? Do we influence others to do the same?
Sovereign God, I present all our fears, interpretations, and assumptions to you. We admit them, and we need your help to overcome them. We love you and we appreciate you. It is in the mighty, matchless name of Jesus I pray, amen.
Go with God!