-by Pastor Jacob Marshall, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
As the rising sun just started to warm the dark, eastern sky behind the Mount of Olives, someone approached the garden tomb of Jesus. Perhaps we’d expect it to be one of the big-name disciples: Peter, James, or John, but in fact, we notice it’s a woman.
*A video I recorded of a Sunday Morning sunrise over the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. It was in this setting that the woman came to the tomb.
Coming closer to the tomb, she immediately recognizes that something’s terribly wrong. The massive stone which covered the entrance had been rolled away.
Taking off in a sprint, all of the grief of the past few days filled her heart and eyes as she rushed to tell Peter and John the horrid news. His unjust execution was enough to bear, but now this. After hearing the news, Peter and John took off in a run, as all three made their way back to the grave.
After arriving, the two disciples conducted their own investigation inside the tomb but emerged finding only grave clothes. The body of Jesus was gone. Still coming to their own conclusions, the disciples left the woman at the tomb and returned to their own homes.
Standing outside the tomb, the woman began to weep. “How could this happen?” “Why would someone do this?” raced through her mind. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she stooped and peered into the tomb to face the grim reality herself.
Strangely though, she didn’t find it empty. As she looked in, the woman saw two angels sitting on the very ledge which should have held Jesus’ body. Looking up, they asked, “Mam, why are you weeping?”
Between her sobs, she answered, “They’ve taken my Lord and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” Then backing out of the tomb she turned with tear-filled eyes to see another man. Looking at her he asked, “Mam, why are you weeping? Who are you seeking?”
Supposing this man to be the gardener, exasperated she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.”
Looking at her, the man replied only with her name. “Mary!” And in a moment of impossible surprise, the garden was no longer filled with the sound of weeping but with the woman’s shout, “My Rabbi!” Tears of hopeless sorrow had now become tears of indescribable joy. Standing right before Mary, alive in the flesh, was Jesus, risen from the dead.
To this Jewish woman, news that would change the world was first entrusted. Looking at Mary, Jesus said, “Go to my disciples and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your all’s Father, to my God and your all’s God.“
And for the second time that morning, Mary ran with news. This time though, the message was unimaginably different. Running as fast as she could, Mary burst into the homes of the disciples, announcing in a loud voice, “I’ve seen the Lord!”
Many things have changed in Jerusalem since that first Easter morning but some things haven’t. The sun still rises over the Mount of Olives the same way it did on that day, the birds still sing in the early morning twilight, and Christ’s tomb is still empty. May we join with Mary as we joyfully announce the news today. He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
Now go and see it for yourself in John 20:1-18!
**Thank you for joining us in this series of devotionals on Approaching Easter with Jesus. It’s my hope that they have in some way renewed your sense of wonder at the awesome God we serve and his redemptive story.
I would be wrong not to thank Pastor Don for giving me this opportunity and his constant encouragement in the process; my wife Samantha, for her willingness to help record some of the podcasts and put up with my shenanigans; and finally, many of you all for your kind words and feedback throughout the week.
Lastly, I urge you today to find an evangelical local church, and encounter the risen savior yourself. May Christ increase, and may we decrease!