It’s Easter Sunday, the church is buzzing, children with chocolate on their faces, bunny ears and sugar highs. As we walk out of church, arms full of treats, we long for something more. Easter is life changing. We must take the time to make this day, the celebration, a personal experience, a time for God to bring us revelation, beyond communal joy and friendship with each other.
Words for the Week
John 20: 11-18
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
As a church it is sometimes difficult to find the personal meaning of congregational celebrations for our lives. We can get all hyped in a fun party, throwing our hands in the air, dancing, then leaving the building without knowing how this could, should change our lives. I know I’ve often found that in Christian gathering. It’s so easy for me to get drawn into the general fun and forget that everything God says or does has a purpose, an applicable reality in my life.
Do you ever feel that way? How do we take joyful celebrations and turn them into personal revelations?
When looking at Scriptures, I realised that Jesus made his resurrection personal to his disciples in various ways.
First, look at Mary. The forgiven, delivered woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet as an extravagant act of thankfulness. Mary is generous, intense in her devotion to Jesus, she’s in this for the long haul. She listened to Jesus, sat at his feet, she brought him her sorrow when Lazarus died. Mary is real, honest, and loves Jesus more than anything. He approached her as a worthy human being, which she most likely wasn’t used to, considering the society she lived in.
When Jesus died, I can imagine her heart ripped open, with all of her hope to be loved fully and purely taken away. If Jesus wasn’t there anymore, who would see her? She goes to the tomb to honour him still, her devotion doesn’t stop at death. She still calls him her Lord, still loves and grieves bitterly. Jesus knows. He does not wait for her to be back with the men to show himself. He speaks to her. Did you notice, he calls her name and instantly she knows? She knows it’s Him, she knows He is alive. She turns and cries out. A cry of impossible hope that the lover of her soul would be alive again! Mary gets a personal revelation of His resurrection, because Jesus is her friend. What Mary experiences isn’t a big party hype. It’s a personal favour, a tailored present, with her name on it. The devoted disciple is met personally.
In Luke 24, we see two men walking towards Emmaus. Downcast, questioning whether Jesus was more than just a prophet. He meets them there, journeys with them. They do not recognise him until later in the day when he breaks bread. He could have given up on them when they weren’t seeing who he was. Instead, he stays until their eyes are open. Then He leaves. Until they personally realise who He is, that He is alive, he sticks around. Jesus keeps at it. He meets with them and shows patience, perseverance, and their hearts are changed.
Finally, in John 20, we meet Thomas. Now Thomas knows Jesus, he’s been with him for a couple of years, he’s travelled, lived, eaten, cried, laughed with Jesus. Yet, when the disciples tell him Jesus is risen, he wants proof, he wants to see the pierced hands and feet. I can relate to this. I probably would be suspicious if someone told me my friend was resurrected.
A week later, Jesus visits the disciples, passing through locked doors. Then he presents his wounds to Thomas. He knows Thomas is a doubter. Though he’s seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, give sight to the blind, heal the lame, he keeps needing physical proof. Jesus could scold him. He could say “Can’t you see it’s me?” “ How much longer shall I put up with you?”. He could decide it’s the last straw. Instead, he meets Thomas where he is at. He answers his question from a week before, presents his wounds and Thomas believes.
Where you see yourself in this story? Are you like Mary, devoted, sold out and hurting? Are you disappointed, cast down, walking down the road to Emmaus? Is Thomas’ story close to home?
Jesus knows you. He’s not a concept. He is a person. He knows that you too need an Easter revelation. If only you ask him, without pretence, to reveal his resurrection to you, He will meet you. Let the empty tomb mean something to you, more than a vague, theoretical hope. Get a hold of the tangible reality of the torn veil. Jesus is standing right next to you. Ask him to show himself. There is room for everyone on Easter morning, baggage and questions included. This is meant to change us, for greater joy, greater life.
He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.
Own it personally…
- Identify who you are in this story. Ask the Holy Spirit to respond to your situation.
- Study Jesus’ response to the various disciples on the story of the resurrection. What does that tell you about his character?
- Ask Jesus where he is in your life. What place have you given Him? Can you change that?
- In what way would you like the resurrection of Jesus to impact your life? Ask Him to do just that.
Speak it Out – Pray and Prophesy
Jesus, you are risen!
Let me hear your voice and recognise it. Let me know what you sound like. Lead me to the open tomb. When I have been stuck in the grief of Good Friday, or the dark haze of Holy Saturday, I want to let the Easter sun rise over my life. When I find it difficult to have hope and accept that your resurrection is a new life for, help me to accept what you’ve already planted in me. May I see that you live in me, not far away, that your Spirit dwells in me. I want to live in the reality of your victory over death.
Thank you living in me, knowing me and loving me in ways I do not understand fully. Unpack Easter and give me revelation. Amen.