The resurrection is too powerful of an event to limit its discussion to just one Sunday per year. Last week we unpacked the idea of belief that Jesus extended to His friends in His post resurrection body. Repeatedly they were faced with the penetrating question “Do you believe?” Let’s keep asking ourselves this question today.
We left off last week with Peter and John running to the tomb. As they approached the entrance John stooped and looked in but Peter just ran on in. John tells us they saw and believed. What will it take for you to see and believe? How many times will you hear this message and walk away not applying it to your own heart? How many times will you feel the love of God, hear the truth of God, see the work of God and deny Him any access to your life? We could recount story after story of men and women who walked in darkness and saw a great light; countless stories of people who now live completely different, free lives because of the work of Jesus for them. These men saw and believed even though they didn’t understand how it all worked. Will you let Him work for you?
Peter and John went back home but Mary lingered. Maybe she had more to lose. Maybe she knew there was something more to be seen. Maybe she just didn’t want to pull away as quickly. For whatever reason she lingered and I’ll bet she was pretty glad that she did! Maybe, just maybe Jesus wants to reveal Himself to you today. Don’t check out just yet. Home is good but time with Jesus is better. Linger at the tomb with me just a little while longer and let’s see what happens.
Mary stooped to take a closer look. She was weeping and no doubt in great angst but was together enough to be blinded by the presence of two angels. But she does not shrink or faint. When they ask her why she’s crying she genuinely responds “They have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they’ve laid Him.” Mary was convinced Jesus had been stolen. Peter and John were convinced He was alive, but Mary needed a little more proof. At this point all you need to know is that it is ok and even normal to act like Mary. Tears are totally acceptable as we look into who Jesus is and what His resurrected life means for us. The things we see will make us mad, sad and embarrassed. But the truth will always win out! Don’t discount the fact that angels pointed Mary to Jesus. They will do the same for us! All of Heaven celebrates every time one sinner repents.
I think the angels probably cued Mary as to the presence of a man behind her. She turned around but did not recognize Him. Something about Jesus resurrected body was different. The two on the road to Emmaus didn’t know Him. The disciples the morning they caught all the fish didn’t recognize Him. It wasn’t until Jesus called Mary by name did she realize who she was speaking to. “Mary.” I don’t think it was loud or critical. Jesus wasn’t angry or disappointed. On the contrary, He was full of joy at the sight of one of His beloved followers. At once Mary recognized Him and cried out “Teacher!”
How will you respond when you hear Him call your name? I know I was startled to say the least. I remember sitting on the back pew and hearing Him say “I want you to preach my Word.” It was a night I will never forget. It shaped my life from that day forward. What about you? Maybe you’ve never heard your name but you know His words were meant for your heart. Maybe it is your sin He first called your attention to. That was certainly Mary’s case. Luke tells us Jesus cast seven demons out of her. He doesn’t call out your sin for any other reason than love. He wants to see you free and Spirit filled. Maybe He references your doubt first? Maybe your confusion? Maybe your anger? Whatever the case you can be absolutely sure that Jesus is ready for you to respond to Him.
When God calls your name you need to know that God is fighting for you! He bends the Heavens and comes down to rescue your life from the pit. You are not a hopeless cause! The God of the Universe is in your corner. This is no magical fairy tale story. This is real! God made you to know Him and be known by Him. He is your biggest advocate! Trust Him when He says He is for you and not against you.
You need to know that when you believe He plants your feet in a spacious place. There is no more need for confinement; no more need for darkness. He gives us absolute freedom in Him!
You need to know there is so much joy on the other side of belief! What are you waiting for?