This is part of a series of reflections on the Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Maker of Heaven and Earth
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary;
suffered under Pontius Pilate
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell,
The third day, He rose from the dead.
He ascended into heaven,
And sitting on the right hand of God the Father almighty
from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic Church
The communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting. Amen.
In John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany, the title character states, "Anyone can be sentimental about the nativity; any fool can feel like a Christian at Christmas. But Easter is the main event; if you don’t believe in the resurrection, you’re not a believer." On Easter Sunday, it is easy to go through the motions. But let us imagine what it was like that first morning. There were plenty of things to be done, but everything was turned upside down by one event.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. (John 20:1)
It was the first day of the week, and it was time to mourn. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows how this would feel. There was that initial shock and sadness at the time of death, but now a few days later, it is time to mourn. They were going to prepare the body and mourn.
In order to mourn properly, they needed things to go as planned. Their main concern was how they would get that big heavy stone moved from the tomb. However, when they arrive the notice two things. The stone is already moved, and the body is not there. Jesus was not in the tomb
This throws everything off. Now they will have to find the body before they can get on with the process of mourning.
Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”(John 20:2)
The women go to get Simon. They needed to tell the others that something was wrong. No one knows where the body is. We do not know what Peter was thinking. Did he remember that Jesus had promised to raise from the grave? He may have remembered this and it probably terrified him. Peter had last seen Jesus as he was telling everyone that he did not know Him. Now, if it were true that he could rise from the dead, what will that mean for Peter?
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. (John 20:3-4)
So Peter runs. John runs too, and makes a point to tell us that he outran Peter.
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. (John 20:6-8)
They go in the tomb. That’s when they see what is going on. The body is not there, for sure, but what is there is startling. The grave clothes are wrapped neatly in its place. This isn’t the work of someone moving the body. They would have taken the body still wrapped up. This is not the work of a grave robber. Anyone trying to steal the body (as hard as that would be) would not have taken the time to fold the clothes. It becomes clear: Jesus is alive. They see this before them and believe.
For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. (John 20:9)
Scripture teaches that Jesus must rise from the grave.
They did not understand everything yet, but they knew Jesus was alive. They knew this would change everything. They would later understand that this was always part of the plan for God’s glory, but now, they just knew that Jesus was alive and that changed everything.
Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. (John 20:10)
They didn’t stay at the empty tomb. They had to return to their lives, but their lives were never the same again. No one could have imagined what lay ahead.
Just like Mary, John, and Peter, we have our own expectations. Many of the concepts of this story have become just an expression for a holiday. We approach Jesus as though He was just an idea in our head, a wild hope for something else. When we really take time to consider the death and resurrection of Christ, we react with confusion, some with fear, but face to face with a risen Lord, the reaction is belief.
Since Jesus is alive, believe!
When you hear of resurrection, you may be confused. When you think of death and meeting Jesus, you may be afraid. Yet, when you see the reality of a risen Lord, you will believe. Today, you can go through the motions of celebrating Easter. You can do the church thing, you can visit family. And tomorrow you can be the same. Or, you can come to terms with the fact that Jesus is alive and never be the same again. See your risen Lord and believe!
Author, Parent, Husband, Christ-follower