“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” (John 20:1-2)
Every message presented by the House of Hope Prison Ministry necessarily pertains to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hence, each message refers in some way to the Risen Christ. But as Resurrection Sunday draws close, our focus is directed more to the Resurrection itself and all that was accomplished thereby. Our observance should be a celebration of the Eternal Life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
By the time John wrote his Gospel, those written by the other Gospel-writers had already achieved a great circulation. The ‘old, old story,’ as we call it, had already been told. John added his personal eyewitness testimony to the other Gospels by writing his account of Jesus’ Resurrection. His Gospel confirmed what Christians of the 1st Century believed, and what we still believe today, about Jesus Christ. As such, we are able to discern somewhat of John’s own response to the Resurrection.
Mary Magdalene was the first disciple of Jesus Christ to discover that His tomb was empty. There were other women with her, as we learn from other Gospel accounts. But this passage deals specifically with Mary Magdalene, out of whom Christ had cast seven devils (Luke 8:2). As Mary came early that morning, she became frightened when she saw the empty tomb. She feared that Jesus’ body had been stolen by Jewish zealots out of their continuing hatred. The empty tomb meant fear and worry for Mary.
Peter and John (“the other disciple, whom Jesus loved”; John 20:2) were gathered together in mourning over the death of their Master and Friend. The events of the past few days had seemed like a whirlwind of triumph and defeat. Peter himself had denied even knowing Him (Matthew 26:74). Upon hearing Mary’s report, Peter and John were moved to respond. Running to the tomb, they discovered it just as Mary had said. What did these things mean? Peter couldn’t believe the impossibility of the implication: “For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9).
The entire scene was unbelievable. Just three days earlier, the disciples watched Jesus die on the Cross of Calvary. It seemed like all their hopes had been forever shattered with the death of their Lord. And now His Body was missing! Instead, there were the grave clothes, folded and in order. Jesus’ enemies would not have so exposed a decomposing body before stealing it; as the stench would have been great, and an unbound body would have been cumbersome in handling.
But John tells us that he drew a different conclusion. The evidence before him did pose many questions. Yet there was in his heart no doubt as to the Answer: Jesus had risen (John 20:8)! The force of this realization was such that John would remember for the rest of his life the moment he began to believe in Christ as Risen.
How do you think you would have reacted to finding Jesus’ empty tomb? It is an unforgettable moment when we come to believe the Resurrection Story. There is joy unspeakable, and a peace that passes all understanding, when we come to know Jesus Christ as our Risen Saviour and Lord. Because He lives, we live also. Because He ever liveth to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25), He is able to help us deal with the pains, sorrows, and trials of earthly life.
While meditating over this passage of Scripture in preparation to write thereupon, the words of an old favorite hymn come to mind:
I serve a Risen Saviour, He’s in the world today.
I know that He is Living, whatever men may say.
I see His Hand of mercy; I hear His Voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.
He Lives – He Lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s Narrow Way.
He Lives – He Lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He Lives: He Lives within my heart.
(Written by Alfred Henry Ackley)
Hallelujah! Christ, the Risen Saviour lives today! Let this be the shout of rejoicing in the mouth of every Born-Again Child of the Living God. Christ is indeed Risen in our hearts – there to rule and reign through a Life of Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost.
As we prepare to observe the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us be ever-minded to celebrate the Life He gave for us and to us; a Life to be lived to the praise of His Glory.
Friend, today may be the first time that you have ever considered Christ’s Resurrection. Maybe you have heard the stories and testimonies of others, telling you about Jesus. Have you beheld the Crucified One, slain for your sins? Do you know the weight of sin as a barrier between you and a Holy God? Then know that Jesus has been judged to die in your place, so that you should live by His Life.
Look to the tomb, for it is empty. Christ is Alive today. And He is Lord. Trust Him as your Saviour, and He will never let you go.