John 20:1-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Resurrection of Jesus
20Early 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. 2So 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. 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
We notice it's still dark when Mary came to the tomb and saw the removed stone. Can you imagine the darkness she must have felt inside as she assumed the final insult was being added to an already horrific injury. What more can go wrong? Now they've taken him to who knows where! This moment before an angel appears, before the disciples run to the tomb, before seeing Jesus with her own eyes, must have felt like the deepest grief she ever knew, and one she realized she couldn't endure.
Sometimes, just when we think the night can't get any darker, the moon suddenly disappears, the stars seem to burn out, and we decide right then and there we aren't even going to try to grope our way forward in the darkness anymore and we give up.
And the darkness consumes the last bit of our hope leaving...nothing.
But if we stay in this place of mystery and let the tomb do its work, sometimes we find evidence that something was astir in the darkness. It's clear something purposeful was going on in the tomb as they see the linens carefully placed. God works in the darkness bringing life and light. God is even Lord over nothingness!
Can you imagine the scene? He's alive!
Today we celebrate!
Reflect on all the struggles, mindsets, and ways of living apart from Jesus you have been laboring to give up through this season of Lent.
Consider those things you left on the cross to die with Jesus, those things that have been entombed in nothingness with Him.
Recall the numb waiting of yesterday and the last vestiges of hope that were consumed in the darkness this morning when you greeted a tomb with a missing Jesus.
When you see Jesus today in all His glory and your hopes have been restored and your joy has been made full, what new life has He brought to you? What has emerged from the tomb and the darkness with newness of life, with redemption? What has Jesus brought with Him as a gift to you that feels new, but somehow you know existed long before even time? Celebrate this new and ever-eternal life you have in Jesus today!
Image by Bill Morrow