Good Friday was a SHOCK. I don’t think, 2000+ years later we totally appreciate the disbelief facing the early disciples of Jesus. Although he’d given ample warning that he would die, they, like we, didn’t want to hear what they didn’t want to hear! So, when Jesus was arrested, tried, tortured, beaten, ridiculed, scorned, humiliated, then nailed to the cross until his death, nothing less than utter shock took hold.
“How could this be?” they wondered. “Was it all a lie?” They surely asked. “What will happen to us, since people know we are his followers?”
It makes it all the more incredible and inspiring that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb that Easter morning. Not only would she make the sacrificial gift of anointing the dead body with spices and ointments to help with the smell, coming in contact with the dead meant she would be ritually unclean for a period of time following her actions.
Mary’s encounter with first the angels, and then Jesus, is nothing shy of miraculous. When she saw the angels, one might think she would immediately grasp the gravity—and excitement—of the situation. One would think she would immediately recognize that Jesus had been raised from the dead and the death had been defeated. But that’s asking an awful lot of a woman already in the throes of shock and grief. So, we are not surprised, then, when Mary was initially uncertain.
When Mary did see Jesus, she assumed it was the gardener. Why not? Her brain and her emotions most surely were experiencing PTSD!
But when Jesus spoke her name, “Mary!” the shock and trauma gave way to recognition.
Following a brief exchange with Jesus, she returned to the Disciples with the simple statement: “I have seen the Lord!”
This powerful exclamation was the world’s most powerful sermon!
“I have seen the Lord!”
How many times does God put us in circumstance hoping we will take the opportunity to give the same such sermon? How many people are longing to hear from someone they know and trust, “I have seen the Lord!”
Many people are AFRAID to make such a proclamation because the “don’t know the Bible well enough.” Did Mary know the Bible well enough? Was Jesus waiting to reveal himself to her until after she’d take all of the Disciple Bible studies ever offered? Until her attendance at small group and Sunday School at reached the magic number? OF COURSE NOT!
Jesus used Mary to share what she’d experienced, not what she’d studied!
Jesus rose from the dead! He conquered Sin and Death. He meets us where we are, calls us by name, offers us life abundant and life renewed.
He gives to the addict that power and courage to be reborn.
He gives to the heartbroken the promise of peace, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to bring comfort.
He gives to the comfortable a challenge to stretch and grow.
He gives to the weak the power to face whatever comes.
He gives to fearful and anxious the assurance that He is more powerful than any power we face.
And, he gives to us all the assurance that NOTHING in life, or in death can separate us from His great love.
What else does He do?
He asks us ALL to recognize our own God-given opportunities to share with someone else our personal experiences with the Risen Christ. We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to have the perfect faith. We just have to be willing to say to the people God puts in our paths: friends, neighbors, family, strangers we meet in the course of the day…”I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!”
Christ has risen! Alleluia! Christ has risen, indeed!
Whom will YOU tell!