Christ is Risen! He has Risen indeed!
Happy Easter – I hope and pray this letter finds you well and looking forward as spring starts to unfold before us. Many years ago, now when my father worked on nights for a security firm, I remember him telling me about a colleague who was covering some sick leave. This chap had a phrase which he used to say, ‘expect the unexpected’ well perhaps that was a good phrase to use if you were helping guard a multi-billion-pound gas plant that supplied a quarter of gas to households in the UK. But do you ever recall Jesus saying this to the disciples before He died? Our resurrection account this year is taken from John 20: 1-18.
The account begins with Mary Magdalene going whilst it was still dark to the tomb where Jesus was laid, presumably to anoint the body and do the final preparations for burial. Remember that they had taken the body down late in the day from the cross and placed it in the tomb donated by a rich nobleman named Joseph, but they had not been able to complete their work because the Sabbath would have been beginning. In John’s account only Mary is mentioned but in the other gospels other women are mentioned too. The women are shocked to discover the huge stone (well really it was a boulder) missing from the entrance so Mary races back to inform the disciples whilst the other women investigate further.
Notice the hurt and pain in her voice as she announces the news to Peter and the other disciple. Given their response it is clear they had nothing to do with the disappearance and so they race down to the scene. One disciple arrives before Peter and looks in but as soon as Peter arrives in goes straight into the tomb to discover it is empty with the strips of cloth laying, with the head piece separate from the body. Peter must have wondered why they were so neatly laid out like this. A thief would not have left the tomb in such an organised fashion. The other disciple joins him, and we get this great line ‘he saw and believed.’ The disciples depart but Mary is left pondering and crying at the tomb.
Mary looks into the tomb and notices two angels inside and they enquire of her as to why she is crying. She explains that they, whoever they are, have taken away the Lord and she does not know where He is. Next comes the crux of the passage when a man appears behind her and again asks the question why are you crying, Mary thinking He was the gardener explains again. It is only when Jesus calls her name that she realises that she is looking at Jesus and everything falls into place for her. That moment, that realisation, that Jesus is alive is so poignant and precious. Mary then goes to the disciples and explains what has happened. The narrative has moved from the pit of despair to bemusement and bewilderment to the most unexpected turnaround and now a new thing has begun. We do not worship a God of repeats, reheats or renewals but a God of NEW LIFE and RESURRECTION. This spring as we emerge from the pandemic remember we serve a RISEN Saviour who is in the world today and He Lives, the old has gone and the new has come. Hallelujah!
May our Lord Jesus Christ, our Resurrected Saviour, bless us now and always,