April 8, 2012
Easter Sunday (B)
John 20:1-18

On that first Easter morning, the disciples were left to deal with the worst-case scenario. The one who had loved them and given their lives meaning had been cruelly and unjustly taken from them. No one ever spoke as this man. No one ever did the things this man did. They were a part of His inner circle. Sure, they misunderstood all He had come to do; but they knew life with Him was unlike anything they’d ever experienced before.

You can try to console yourselves and say, “Most of the time, worst-case scenarios don’t happen. You prepare for the worst and hope for the best; but in reality, things are never as good or bad as they seem.” Try telling to the widow of a fallen soldier who has a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old to rear by herself. Jesus was dead; and in the minds of the disciples, it couldn’t get any worse.

Early on the morning following His death, though, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb—Mary from whom Jesus had cast out several demons. Her last act of love would be to anoint Jesus for His burial. When she arrived, the stone had been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. She didn’t know what to do, so she ran back to the disciples and told Peter what she had seen.

There was a lot of running on that first Easter morning. Mary ran back to the disciples. Peter and John raced to the tomb. John hesitated before going in, but Peter barged right past him. The first thing they saw were the linen strips and burial cloth. The burial cloth had been folded and neatly set aside as if Jesus were saying to anyone who saw it, “I won’t need this anymore.”

Peter and John were left to wonder if what they were beginning to suspect was really true. Hadn’t Jesus said something about rising from the dead? Mary, on the other hand, stood there crying. If crucifixion weren’t bad enough, now there was the indignity of taking the body away. A man appeared and asked her, “Why are you crying?” Nothing registered with her until she heard that familiar voice call her name.

There was something about the way Jesus said her name. She knew Jesus was alive. The first person to hear the news of the resurrection was a woman with a sordid past. Mary may have thought, “Now things will get back to the way they were!” Isn’t it interesting that she probably would have been happy to go back to the way things were? Jesus had said, “You will do greater things than these because I am going to my Father.” When His Spirit empowers all of His followers to do what He did, great things happen!

Those disciples saw something that was real and genuine and made a lasting difference—the resurrected Christ. Throughout history, there have been a lot of attempts to prove the resurrection, and there have been many convincing proofs that Jesus is alive. To me, there is no more compelling evidence than the change in the disciples after they had seen Christ.

Chuck Colson asked, “But what about the disciples? Twelve powerless men, peasants really, were facing not just embarrassment or political disgrace, but beatings, stonings, execution. Every single one of the disciples insisted, to their dying breaths, that they had physically seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead.” He went on to say, “Men will give their lives for something they believe to be true; they will never give their lives for something they know to be false.”

Paul wrote in Ephesians 1 about his incomparably great resurrection power for those of us who believe. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and transformed His disciples is available for you. Will you receive it?

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