Our scripture this morning is John 20:1-18.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 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.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 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.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” 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.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for 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.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
The grief that followers of Jesus felt after His crucifixion was deep and painful. Their wonderful friend and teacher had been put to death by a combination of religious and political power. How would they live out His lessons if it meant they might die for their faith?
The answer of course is that many would willingly face death for their belief in Christ, even in the 21st century. After Jesus appeared to Mary, she ran to share the news with the disciples, and reports came in from others to whom He had appeared as well (Luke 24:13-35). Death has been defeated and we all begin a new chapter in our faith, following Christ’s Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Today we celebrate with the same joy as His first followers and go in His name as they did that all the world may know the blessing of His resurrection. We ask His forgiveness for our sin and unbelief, and by His blood we are washed clean. Christ is risen; He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Loving Lord, we are amazed at Your saving power and Your mercy toward us. Help us to share the love You showed through Christ’s sacrifice for us and send us into all the earth to tell others the wonderful redemption story. Amen.