Easter. It seems so long ago that we celebrated one of the most recognized events in Christianity. However, what happened next? The story of Christ’s deliverance for us did not just stop with His resurrection. He promised to send a Helper. He promised we would not be left alone. Over the next two weeks I would like to take some time to reflect on the same question the disciples must have been asking after they saw the empty tomb—Now What? Have we celebrated the risen Savior back in April only to forget that He is still alive and is still revealing His presence to us? Have we seen the risen Lord over the last 40 days? Join me as we experience the sightings of Jesus after His resurrection.
We begin on Resurrection Day as the women head to the tomb to anoint the body with spices as was their custom. Let us take a moment to read each gospel account to get the full picture of what was happening on that glorious Sunday morning. Take special note how each individual responded to seeing the empty tomb.
“Early on the first day of the week, after He had risen, He appearedfirst to MaryMagdalene, out ofwhom He had drivensevendemons. Shewent and reportedto those who had beenwithHim, as they were mourningandweeping. Yet, when they heardthat He was aliveand had been seenbyher, they did not believe it.” Mark 16:9-11
“On thefirstday of theweek, very early in the morning, they cametothetomb, bringingthe spices they had prepared. They foundthestonerolled awayfromthetomb. They went inbutdid notfindthebodyof theLordJesus. Whilethey wereperplexedaboutthis, suddenlytwomenstood bythemindazzlingclothes. Sothe womenwereterrifiedandbowed downtotheground. “Why are you looking forthelivingamongthedead?” asked the men. “He isnothere, but He has been resurrected! Rememberhow He spoke to you when He wasstillinGalilee, saying, ‘TheSon of Manmust be betrayedinto the hands of sinfulmen, be crucified, andrise on thethirdday’?” And they rememberedHiswords. Returningfromthetomb, they reportedallthese things to theElevenand to alltherest. MaryMagdalene, Joanna, Marythe mother of James, andtheother women withthem were tellingtheapostlesthese things. Butthesewordsseemedlikenonsensetothem, and they did not believe the women. Peter, however, got upandrantothetomb. When he stooped to look in, he sawonlythe linen cloths.So he went home, amazed at what had happened.” Luke 24:1-12
“On thefirstday of theweek MaryMagdalenecametothetombearly, while it wasstilldark. She saw that thestonehad been removedfromthetomb. Soshe rantoSimonPeterandtotheotherdisciple, the oneJesusloved, andsaidto them, “They have takentheLordout ofthetomb, andwe don’tknowwherethey have putHim!” At that, Peterandtheotherdisciple went out, headingforthetomb. Thetwo were runningtogether, buttheotherdiscipleoutranPeterandgottothetombfirst. Stooping down, he sawthe linen clothslying there, yet he did not go in. Then, followinghim, SimonPetercamealso. He enteredthetombandsawthe linen clothslying there. Thewrappingthat had beenonHishead was notlyingwiththe linen clothsbut was folded upinaseparateplace by itself. Theotherdisciple, who had reachedthetombfirst, thenentered the tomb, saw, andbelieved. For they still did notunderstandtheScripturethatHemustrisefrom the dead. Thenthediscipleswent home again. John 20:1-10
“ButMarystoodoutsidefacingthetomb, crying. Asshe was crying, she stoopedto look intothetomb. She sawtwoangelsinwhitesittingthere, oneattheheadandoneatthefeet, whereJesus’bodyhad been lying. Theysaidto her, “Woman, whyare you crying?” “Because they’ve taken awaymyLord,” she toldthem, “and I don’tknowwhere they’ve putHim.” Having saidthis, she turned aroundandsawJesusstanding there, though she did notknow it wasJesus. “Woman,”Jesussaid to her, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Supposing He wasthegardener, shereplied, “Sir, ifyou’veremovedHim, tellmewhere you’ve putHim, and I will take Himaway.” Jesussaid, “Mary.” Turning around, shesaid to Him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!”—whichmeans“Teacher.” “Don’t cling toMe,”Jesustoldher, “for I have not yetascendedtotheFather. ButgotoMybrothersandtellthem that I am ascendingtoMyFatherandyourFather—to MyGodandyourGod.” MaryMagdalenewent and announced to thedisciples, “I have seentheLord!” Andshe told them what He had said to her. John 20:11-18
“As theywere on their way, someof theguardscameintothecityand reported to thechiefpriestseverythingthat had happened. After the priests had assembledwiththeeldersandagreed on a plan, they gavethesoldiersa large sum ofmoneyand told them, “Saythis,‘Hisdisciplescameduring the night and stoleHimwhile we were sleeping.’ Ifthisreaches thegovernor’sears, wewill deal withhimandkeepyouout of trouble.” Sotheytookthemoneyand didasthey were instructed. Andthisstory has been spreadamong Jewish peopleto this day.” Matthew 28: 11-15
Wow! As I reread through the accounts immediately following the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ I find myself in the same position as the women and the disciples. Yes, I went to church and celebrated Resurrection Sunday. I said I believed, but have I truly “seen” the Lord since then. Mary saw Jesus and did not know it was Him. He called her by name and then she truly saw Him. I am left pondering, “Have I taken the time to hear the Lord call my name?”
What about the disciple’s reactions? Some saw the empty tomb, but did not go in. Maybe you made a decision this past Easter to place your trust in Jesus Christ, but for one reason or another you have been timid in stepping out in faith to actually experience the fullness of living a life in full relationship with Him. Whereas Peter step out in faith and went all the way into the tomb, I challenge you to do the same. Peter still did not have all the answers when he went in nor will you or I have all the answers when we step out in faith either. However, we are guaranteed He will guide and direct our paths and give us understanding and wisdom in His perfect timing.
Finally, what story are we spreading regarding the empty tomb? Have we shared the good news of the empty tomb with anyone since we celebrated Easter this past April? (Ouch!) Instead, have we allowed false stories of the disciples stealing the body or other such nonsense to penetrate our communities? Have we truly listened to other fellow believers about the work the Lord is doing in their lives? As we focus the next two weeks on the time between the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the day of Pentecost, may our eyes be spiritually open to see clearly not only Christ’s work on the cross, but the work He desires to do in our own lives and those around us in this present day.
My Heart’s Prayer: Lord, open the eyes of my heart. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. I truly want to see you. Forgive me for so easily being prone to wander and fall right back into the traditional model of worshipping you. I want to truly see you as Mary did when you called her name. I want to have the courage to run and tell others how I have seen you so that they too might believe because of the work they see You have done in and through me. Lord, I don’t want live a life that demonstrates false stories about your resurrection, but instead want to live in a way that shows your almighty power. Lord, I wait now as I am certain I will see Your goodness in the land of the living as I wait for You (Psalm 27:13). In Jesus Name, Amen.