Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Dawning

My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them,
and they follow Me.
John 10:27

 Mary Magdalene knew she should have waited for the other women after the Sabbath. It was unkind to go ahead of them to Jesus' tomb. But the emptiness inside, the need to be near Him overpowered her sense of propriety. She hoped for a few minutes to weep alone beside His body before the others came to anoint Him with spices.

As the first rays of light peeked through the haze of night, another large earthquake--the second in the last two days--rumbled underneath, nearly knocking her off her feet. She caught her balance and stumbled onward to the garden.

At the tomb, she had a larger shock. The huge stone sealing the tomb's entrance had somehow been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. Panic seized Mary. The tomb had been robbed of its contents.

She ran and found Peter and John and breathlessly reported the theft. Together they ran back to the tomb. John got there first but didn't go in. Mary stood fearfully outside with John as Peter, with his usual bravado, bent down and stepped into the tomb.

Jesus was indeed gone. The shroud was still there, head cloth rolled neatly by itself. It seemed a macabre touch, as if someone were tidying up after a nap.

Peter was disgusted. John, who finally went in to see for himself, came out with a look of bewilderment and wonder. They walked back to their homes arguing quietly. 

But Mary couldn't leave just yet. This was the final blow. Hadn't His poor body suffered enough humiliation? The tomb was her last tie to Him, the last place to be near Him. Now truly nothing was left of Him but the memories. She had never felt so forsaken or alone.

Then she heard a small sound coming from inside the tomb. Was the blessed sanity Jesus had restored to her now leaving, too? Trembling, she bent down and peered into the room.

To her surprise, two men were sitting where Jesus should have been lying. They sat in shining garments. One of them spoke, his words flowing like the sound of a dancing stream.

"Woman, why are you weeping?"

Now it was not her sanity in question. You're sitting on the reason, she thought. But she simply said, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."

Precisely at that moment, she heard footsteps behind her. "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Startled, she turned to see a young man standing near, looking at her with a strange mix of compassion and pity.

A random thought occurred to her. Perhaps this was the gardener and had, for some reason, moved the body. She turned back longingly to the tomb. "Sir," she begged, "if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."

For a moment, there was no answer but silence. A long pause hung in the air like a deep sigh.


A shock wave rolled through her. She knew this voice. This was the voice that conquered waves, kingdoms, demons, and men. It was the voice that raised the dead and stilled her storms. 

The holy voice that called her name was the Voice of her God.

She whirled around in disbelief. It was Him. Now there was no doubt. His face was different; serene, peaceful, scarred. 

But it was His eyes. Those eyes that always bared her soul and forgave what they saw. Her heart pounded with the thrill of the words thundering in her head:

Jesus is alive. He is not dead. A thousand other thoughts tumbled through her head as the force of this revelation rocked her world. 

Eternal life is real. Death is temporary. Nothing is more powerful than God.

"Teacher!" In a moment she was at His feet, clinging to Him with joy and abandon. The reality of His presence and His authority to conquer even death burst into a thousand prisms of joy in her heart. In one shining moment, an endless night of tears melted away in the power of a new dawn.

 We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet;
for the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
For this perishable must put on the imperishable,
and this mortal must put on immortality.
But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable,
and this mortal will have put on immortality,
then will come about the saying that is written:
1 Corinthians 15:51-54  

This account is based on the record of the disciple John in John 20. Some of the other Biblical accounts vary slightly as each disciple reveals different insights to the event. Read the Biblical accounts of the Resurrection for yourself in Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24, and John 20.

Special thanks to Erik Thorson for the photos. Copyright 2013.

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