Confusion, bewilderment, unbelief, and all manner of speculation fade away in the light of Jesus’ presence. We track the story God has left for us in John 20 and watch God move things along. Here Mary tries to make sense of the odd facts presented to her: the stone rolled away, no body, and linens left neatly in the tomb. Not knowing how to deal with it, she runs and reports her findings to the apostles. They too observe the same facts. John believes but doesn’t comprehend it fully.
Mary continues to weep in anguish. She interacts with angels and even Jesus without knowing their identity, so great is her grief. Jesus breaks through the hysteria and reveals himself to her. At this point she is overcome with joy! He calls her off and dispatches her to the brothers with a message of greeting and affirmation.
This story, then, is the foundation of the doctrine of the resurrection. What does it matter? First, while not seeing Jesus personally, we believe the report given to us. We do not believe it on intellectual grounds primarily, though. We believe it because we have encountered him personally! Those who believe on him do so due to his personal drawing and visitation. Just as joy and confidence characterized Mary, so it does us.
Second, this doctrine furnishes hope for us of things to come. Since Jesus is resurrected, so we too will be resurrected. In this Jesus guards us against hopelessness and fear of death. Death does not hold dread for us because we know we will rise to a new life in a glorified state.
Third, the doctrine of the resurrection stabilizes us. Things were as bad as they could be for the disciples. What could be worse? Yet, God worked apart from their contribution and turned things around. He did it decisively and with finality. May we rest in God’s power to turn things around. Yes, the culture is disintegrating in front of us. Yes, things are moving fast, way fast. They were moving fast during the passion week too. Rest, relax, God will work when he is ready. He will surely once again shake the nations and restore his glory. We serve a God who turns things around and vindicates himself (primarily) and his people (secondarily).
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