Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”! John 20:18a
On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” I’m pretty much assuming that means the work of redemption was finished, but in many ways “it” had only just begun. The resurrection changed everything – it changed the world! It changes us!
One of my favorite pictures of the resurrection is of Jesus standing just inside the tomb door and looking out. I half expect him to jump out the door and holler, “Ta da!” We don’t know what he did, but we do know that his resurrection turned the world upside down and change millions of lives.
Easter is the primary focus of Christianity. Christmas is a wonderful celebration, but without Easter, we might as well not celebrate it. They go together. Even in the birth narratives there are images and links to what is to come in the life of the infant Jesus. The gifts of the wise men – gold, frankincense, and myrrh, are certainly indicative of his death and burial, as well as holiness and his title as King of the Jews.
Every year we hear the “old, old story” as one hymn tells us, and every year, I challenge myself to preach on the current lectionary story of the resurrection. Mark is especially challenging because the original ending tells us that the women ran off and said nothing to anyone!
This year is my retirement year, so I decided to choose the John 20 passage for the sermon focus. It’s is my favorite maybe because Mary Magdalene represents all of us at the graveside of loved ones: puzzled, in pain and grieving. To top it all off, she arrived at the tomb to find the stone rolled away and jumped to the conclusion that Jesus’ body had been stolen.
Don’t we jump to conclusions, too? We make assumptions about so many things, especially when it comes to reading the Bible or hearing stories from the Bible that we hear over and over again. So often we don’t stop to really find something new and interesting that we may have missed before.
What’s new and interesting in the John 20:1-18 passage? For me, I think it might be the contrast between Mary’s overwhelming grief and her own type of resurrection when she realized that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Where once she was weeping and accusing the gardener (she thought Jesus was the gardener) of taking away Jesus’ body, she realized when she heard him speak her name that, indeed, this was Jesus!
As much as she wanted to hang onto him, he had a task for her to do – be the messenger! She was the first witness to the resurrection! It was her job to spread the word. Her life changed when she met Jesus but it was transformed when she became the first evangelist. She was raised to a new purpose in life, in spite of the attitudes toward women during her day.
Where are our resurrection moments in life?
How do they change and transform us so we are witnesses for Christ?
What are our “ta da!” moments?