John 20: 1-18
In today’s passage, that is all Mary was doing at the first Easter morning—paying her respects, going to his tomb to convince herself it was all true. Jesus’s death was natural. Grief was natural. To expect a sealed tomb was natural.
However, Mary had to face the unnatural truth that the stone had been rolled away and to find the empty tomb filled with angels, and to find the risen Christ. All the things Mary dealt with on the first Easter morning were unnatural.
Now let’s look more closely at the story about how the three—Mary, Peter, and the beloved disciple—responded to the Easter message, drawing us to figure out who we are among those characters.
First, we may know people like the beloved disciple, John, today. Maybe these are the people who sometimes refuse to face the true fact; and who might want to skip the story of “crucifixion,” then just turn to the page of “resurrection.”
Next, how about Peter? Many of us live with Peter in his complex of emotions. we often promise ourselves that we will not fall away from whatever God has given us to do, but the minute we are threatened in some way, we easily leave, deny, and betray.
Lastly, here we are, Mary Magdalene. Mary obviously expected nothing to happen. She even saw the risen Christ but made a mistake to think of him as the gardener. When the risen Christ spoke her name, she suddenly knew exactly who this mysterious stranger was. Then, Jesus commissioned her to go and tell what she had seen. Mary obeyed the risen Jesus and left the garden to tell what she knew and saw to be very true.
We all are here, not just listening to a happy-ending-familiar-Easter-story. We are here reminded again and again that today is another beginning to confess our shortcomings, to turn to God, and to tell the truth, especially for those who are dealing with only death, emotionally as well as spiritually.
By the light of this day, God has planted a seed of new life in us that cannot be killed, and if we can remember that then there is nothing we cannot do—move mountains, banish fear, love our enemies, be the salt and light, not only tell the truth but also live out the truth, and transform the world.
“Christ is risen.” “We have seen the Lord.” These messages are neither just a cliché nor just a happy ending message. This is the invitation for each of us to follow Jesus Christ who is not behind us, but ahead of us, every step of the way.
Thanks be to God.