Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) – John 20:1-9
The yearly reminder about what Jesus did for us both through His death on a cross and his resurrection from the dead is fantastic! Let us not waste it. It is always an encouragement when you read God’s Word and see that holidays, or days of remembrance, are part of God’s plan too! Easter specifically can be overlooked, it is not as big of a holiday in the US as Christmas, yet it is the purpose of Christmas. Jesus was born in order to die and conquer death through His own resurrection from the dead.
This weekend was Jesus’s plan and the premise for which He came into His creation and was born. It was something He spoke of often. He spoke of it all 4 of the Gospels, the three Synoptic Gospels have three accounts where Jesus predicts His death(Matthew 12:38-40; 16:4, 21;17:23) (Luke 9:22; 18:31-34 ) (Mark 8:31-9:1, 9:33-37, 10:32-34).
In the Gospel of John, remember when Jesus said in the massive and beautiful Temple to tear it down and in three days he will raise it up again (John 2:19)? But, later in the Gospel of John you see Jesus talking about being a good shepherd and taking care of His sheep He speaks about His life ending and says, No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. – John 10:18 and half the people thought He was crazy. And, unfortunately none of these moments were able to leave a lasting impact on the disciples. Literally. Numerous times it says like in Luke 18:34, “Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.”
Our understanding does not determine the best path to accomplish the greatest good. – John 20:9
Remember how Peter and John went running to the tomb after Mary Magdalene had presumably told them that someone had taken Jesus (John 20:1-10). They did not understand what had happened and how it would change everything! They had been told, they had been warned of the cost Luke 9:22-26. Yet, they were not waiting for the resurrection. And so, what they thought God was doing paled in comparison to what God has done.
We have learned of the glory of God from God’s Word for years, many for even a lifetime. And, if we haven’t read from God’s Word who He is we are graciously given sight to see what He has made with His Words. Now we might be easily distracted by the awe found in the scenic night’s sky, or the luxury of waves on a beach, or the landscape of a field ready for harvest from the view of the combine!
By distracted I mean that as you open your perfectly designed eyes that are connected through nerves to your occipital lobe carrying light waves turned into impulses that utilize your brains connection to invert what you are seeing and process the information in a useful way. Then you can recognize that each object you see is made of atoms, you can’t see with normal eyes, that form molecules and build our universe as we see it. We could on and on.
But, I think you get it. Whether it is the explicit greatness of God you see in His creation or the knowledge you have of God from His Word you know God is fantastically amazing. You know that the God we worship is one that has that not only made the mountains, but is greater than all the universe. You know that although He makes things on a massive scale He is forever a master of detail and precision!
And yet, what do you need in order to trust God with today? God is doing something amazing that will continue to impact eternity and those with Him there. We have the opportunity to be the ones who are inspired by the difficult promises and look past today in order to see tomorrow. Jesus’s death on the cross rocked His disciples worldview, it discouraged and distracted them from the greatness of God. And, how often have my terrifying life circumstances done the same to me?
We can join in trusting God and rejoicing with Him as we encourage those hurting, rejoice with those who are having phenomenal times, and are content being with God through it all. Let’s be a beacon to the world what the resurrection of God has done!
The point, is this:
God’s way outshines our darkest doubts and grandest dreams.
Let’s take a look at a passage in Luke where Jesus predicts his death and resurrection. (Luke 9:22-26) The disciples had just, well at least Peter, verified that they believe Jesus is the Messiah of God. The anointed one of God, the King of Israel, the rightful leader of the people of God.
This persons coming should have been a sign of promised prosperity for those who followed Him. The history of God’s people had been a cycle. The people of God would rebel from God and be oppressed by those they joined, then a godly leader would turn the people to God which then led to prosperity, freedom from oppressors, and amazing and glorious battles where God does most of the work.
Yet Jesus follows this declaration with this:
And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. – Luke 9:22-26
Following this devastating revelation about the ultimate outcome, Peter and a few others experience God, the son Jesus and the Father in a way that displays their unity and excellence. What we call the transfiguration. They see Jesus in His awesome splendor! And still, knowing, seeing, and experiencing all they did they were still discouraged, afraid, and confused as life unfolded around them.
What’s happening now might not always seem like a victory, but neither did a cross.
The disciples, you, and I have all been in that devastating moment. The news has come in and, or we are waiting for what we know, is life altering and terrible news. That is the hope that Jesus brings on Easter. The gravest of questions we ask of God is how is He good while we wade through the muck and mire of life’s trash. Yet, that is Easter. That is our hope in the resurrection through turmoil, through despair, through torture, and inevitably through death Jesus produces life.
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:55-58
In this text Paul has seen the effects of the resurrection. The people of God have now healed from the death of Christ they have experienced the power, yes, the power, of God’s resurrection from the dead. The people of God have experienced hope, healing, and drive for something far greater than today.
Paul himself had endured beatings, stones pelting and bruising him till he had appeared dead. He had experienced imprisonment, shame, and physical degradation yet knew there is more. He knew that what is now is meant to be perishable, but what is to come, that is our resurrection from the dead, is our greatest joy and it is imperishable.
Jesus spoke to Martha, the sister of a man named Lazarus whom Jesus would raise from the dead before Jesus was killed Himself, and He said this, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this? – John 11:25-26
After this question, you see Jesus show His emotion for the events that had caused so many others pain as well, but you also see Jesus do something amazing. He transformed what those around Him thought impossible. He did things time and time again that others didn’t understand. They wanted things now, they wanted the easiest path to the greatest outcome, and what they found was that through great hurt, trials, and pain God does some of His greatest works of art and good.
Jesus Himself showed us this. He was born to suffer and die. Jesus the God of the universe in human flesh suffered and died. It devastated those around Him, and it was even harder on Him leading up to it. But, for the joy set before Him Jesus endured the cross, sinful man’s judgement of Him, shame, and death only to rise from the dead and sit down at the right hand of the throne of God the father so that we would grow weary (Hebrews 12:2-3). He did this so that we would not lose heart. He did this so that we could have hope today.
How can you live in a way that Pities the April Fool?
How can you live with confidence, understanding who God is, not always what He is doing?
The disciples knew that Jesus was amazing, they had seen amazing things and God speaking from Heaven. They had witnessed nature bend to His will and even seen Jesus raise someone from the dead. Yet, when Jesus died, when they couldn’t see it happening or have it explained to them, they lost perspective on who He was because of what was happening.
Keep your gaze fixed on Him who rose from the dead! Keep looking to the light not being distracted by the muck and mire of life’s constant weight. Your weights have been removed, don’t pick them up again. And, if you do pick them up again, all you need to do is hand them to Him. I promise you, He can carry more than you think!
He’s probably doing something amazing you don’t even know about yet!