Posted on Sat, Mar 30, 2013
March 30, 2013
Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil
Gospel Text: John 20:1-18
The Resurrection of Jesus
Early 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. 2 So 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.’ 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
The first Easter started as ours will tomorrow, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark…” Mary Magdalene goes to the garden where Jesus has been entombed. Mary is alone in the Gospel of John; In Mark 16, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome go to the tomb with spices; in Matthew 28 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to “see the tomb;” In Luke 24:10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and “the other women” who were the ones who went to the disciples to announce to them that Jesus was alive.
When it comes to being the first to see that the tomb is empty like Jesus said, Mary is the common thread to the resurrection story. Mary is from the town of Magdala, which means, “salted fish.” It is located on the west side of the Sea of Tiberius. (And yes, there is a Gnostic “Gospel according to Mary,” to go along with the new and improved, “Gospel according to Judas.”)
She saw that the tomb had been opened, but she did not go in. Why? John often spoke about “seeing with believing eyes.” Can you imagine what must have been going on in her mind when she saw that the tomb was open? She had spent so much time with Jesus, through the good times and the bad, even the times when there was great doubt as to what Jesus could do… But think of the experiences she has had with Jesus; upon meeting the father of a sick little girl, Jesus says, “take me to her.” What could Jesus do now that the girl was dead? I am sure saying nice prayers like the town rabbi would be nice… but really? What could he do? Jesus went to the girl and raised her from the dead! … That is what Jesus could do! Then there was the time when there is a crowd of 5000 men, include women, children and the elderly, there were probably over 12,000 people present… and with only some fish and a few loaves, Jesus feeds them all, with plenty to spare! … And then there were the prophecies about what would happen after Jesus had entered Jerusalem, He said that, ‘he would be betrayed, arrested, beaten, and killed … and then raise from the dead.’ Mary and the other disciples were witness to everything Jesus taught and did, and they all came true… Could Jesus really be raised from the dead like he promised? Jesus said that he would rise again on the third day after he was killed… it is the third day, and the tomb is open. Is it true? Is it possible Jesus is alive? Is Jesus doing things that only God could do!
All the events that have made up Mary’s life are like scars in her heart; the good and the bad. We do not really know if Mary of Magdala is the same Mary as the Mary of Bethany, PLUS we do not really know if Mary of Magdala, was the same women called “the sinner,” who was forgiven by Jesus. Most of these traditional sayings and understandings about Mary were made by men of the early church, with very questionable motives… all we do know about Mary of Magdala, Mary Magdalene, is that she had followed Jesus and witnessed the good and the bad with Jesus, and now, when it looked like her journey with Jesus was over, even after death she was still following Him, she still came to the tomb… she certainly came with fear, probably some doubt, but most definitly a spark of hope.
Like scars in our heart, she ran back to the place where the other disciples were hiding. She needed to tell someone what she had seen, but whom? Could she tell the disciples? Not one of them demonstrated any kind of courage when Jesus needed them most. Remember Jesus was not crucified between any of his followers; he was crucified between two criminals.
But the disciples were the only ones who bore the same scars she had, they too had heard him prophesy about being killed and then rising again. What would they say when they heard her amazing news? Would they only think that Jesus’ body was not stolen, rather than believing what He has promised about rising from the dead? Everything he promised would happen, had happened, why wouldn’t His promise change now… Jesus did all the miracles before, but Jesus is dead, ONLY GOD COULD DO WHAT THEY DESIRED MOST, and that was to conquer the power of death and raise Jesus their master from the dead and release him from the tomb. (She couldn’t say it and John didn’t write it…)
Mary went back to the place of the disciples, Peter and “the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved.” Who is this disciple? He is probably, John.
After hearing Mary’s amazing news, they both ran to the tomb. Peter was the first one to the tomb, but he did not enter… Why? Question: Where was Peter the last time we heard from him in the Easter story? Answer: He was denying Jesus. If Jesus is alive, “Peter will have to answer to his risen Lord and Master! Will he have the courage to face a risen/resurrected Jesus?”
Then Peter did enter the tomb. The linens were “neatly laid out.” This indicates that the body was not stolen. “He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.” One commentator says that the meaning of the statement, “rolled up in a place by itself” would mean that the linens that were wrapped around Jesus’ body, simply dropped from the place they were wrapped around the body, as if they simply dropped down because the body simply disappeared from under the linens.
When ‘the one whom Jesus’ loved,’ presumably John, entered the tomb, he believed! He loved Jesus, he obeyed Jesus, and when Jesus, from the cross, ordered John to take care of Mary, Jesus mother, he took her into his own household. Jesus, when he saw Jesus, he knew he was listening to God, and when he saw the empty tomb, he knew that God had done a great thing! When He saw the empty tomb, he looked with eyes of faith, and saw God at work.
Up to now, no one has actually seen Jesus alive. Mary is crying outside the tomb in the garden until she looks in and sees to angels. Remember, we get the word, “messenger” from the word angel, or vise versa, She turns around and sees someone she thinks is the gardener… but it is not a gardener, it is the risen Christ! It is Jesus. As soon as Jesus says her name, she hears with ears of faith, and she knows that it is Jesus calling her name.
I am sure she wants to hold on to Jesus and not let him go, she doesn’t want to loose him again. She wants to hug him the way you all hug each other after we haven’t seen a friend for a long time due an illness or separation. But it isn’t the right time for Jesus… instead, as soon as Jesus sees that her faith, like his body has been resurrected, Jesus sends her back to tell the disciples that He is alive. Mary becomes the first evangelist, the first one to proclaim the Easter message, “Jesus is alive! God has raised Jesus up!” It truly was a God thing!
But think about it, when Mary sees that Jesus has been resurrected, she too is resurrected, but just as Jesus’ body was totally healed, the scars will remain on his hands, feet and side… In seeing that God has raised Jesus from the dead, she is raised from the dread of hopelessness, but those scars will remain. Her faith is healed, but those memories of the past will remain, it is just that those memories will no longer have any power over her. The pains, the doubts, the disappointments of the past will remain as memories, but they will no longer have any power over her. Only ‘The Truth’ will have meaning for her, for us. Jesus IS The Truth. Fear, hopelessness, even death are not the final answer. The final answer is that the promise of forgiveness and resurrection has been fulfilled through the cross of Jesus. God fulfilled the promise of forgiveness and reconciliation given from the day when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. Even though the scars on His hands remain, he is alive and well. Jesus has been raised so that you too can be raised up to a new life of faith, hope, and love, even though our scars remain. The scars are memories, but they don’t tell us who we are, God tells us who we are. You, through gift of the cross, forgiveness and your baptism, are now identified through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of. Even if you don’t fully understand it, don’t worry; it’s a God thing. Through the death and resurrection, you have been forgiven; you too have been made alive, really alive! Amen.
“And may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
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