“Thou art the Sun of other days, They shine by giving back thy rays.” (John Keble: The Christian Year)
“’Dear woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Who are you looking for?’ ‘Mary!’ Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is Hebrew for ‘Teacher’). Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, ‘I have seen the Lord!’ (John 20:15, 16, 18 NLT)
The sight of the stone rolled away from the tomb entrance, the folded linen cloth, the absence of the corpse—none of these moved Mary to thoughts of resurrection. The riddle of Jesus’ disappearance remained unsolved.
“They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.” Her logic is faultless. Dead bodies do not just disappear—someone has to move them. We live by laws of motion and mechanics. Science, reasoning, and perception are based upon the familiar and predictable; only what has happened before can happen now—or so we think.
Then Mary hears the One who had been certified as dead call her by name. Like the voice that shatters glass, the voice of Jesus shattered her world—calling her forward to new possibility and a new future.
“Rabboni!” (my very own Teacher) she cries out to Jesus. Then she communicated this too-good-to-keep-to-herself good news to the world. She did not shout, “I have seen the empty tomb and that proves Jesus is alive” The empty tomb never proved anything. The greatest argument for the Resurrection is personal encounter with the living Lord.
If something very real had not occurred on that strange, confused morning, there would have been no church, Christianity, or New Testament. Some still attempt to reduce Jesus’ resurrection to the coming of spring bringing life to the dead earth, or the rebirth of hope in the despairing soul. Some suggest these are the miracles that the Resurrection is all about, but they are not. In some way these things are miracles, but they are not this miracle—the central miracle on which the entire Christian faith pivots.
Konrad Adenaur, post WWII chancellor of West Germany, remarked, “If Jesus Christ is not alive, then I see no hope for the world.” Because He is alive, we are filled with hope that our living Lord will one day solve intractable problems politicians, scientists, philosophers, economists, and warriors have for generations been unable to deal with.
Have you seen the Lord with heart sight? Have you heard him call your name? Have you fell at his feet and called him Rabboni? Is Jesus your very own Teacher—leading you to see timeless truth. Is Jesus your Defense Counsel—defending you from guilt? Is Jesus your greatest Friend—letting you enjoy the pleasure of his company? Have you received his blessing, “Peace be with you”?
“There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain: Then bursting forth in glorious day Up from the grave He rose again! And as He stands in victory Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me, For I am His and He is mine – Bought with the precious blood of Christ. No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me; From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand: Till He returns or calls me home, Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.” (“In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty)
Johnny R. Almond
Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church; Fredericksburg, Virginia