Making A Difference In The Nation's Capital Through Prayer And Action

Day 1: The Resurrection

Apr 2, 2021

Countdown to the Resurrection

And then He called my name . . .

It is early morning on the first day of the week. The sun has not yet made its appearance on the horizon.

Mary is busily working to prepare spices to anoint the body of Jesus in keeping with her Jewish tradition. As she finishes and makes her way to the borrowed grave where Jesus is buried, each step is a struggle. She has hardly slept since the tragic events unfolded resulting in the death of the one she believed to be the promised Messiah.

Yet, everything she thought was true seemed lost to her now. How her life had changed since her first encounter with Jesus. She was a harlot, an outcast from acceptable society. But Jesus delivered her from the demonic forces that plagued her and transformed her life.  Yet, there she was on Golgotha as her deliverer was mercilessly crucified. She witnessed his suffering. She heard his last breath and saw his side pierced by the sword. Blood and water poured forth. She watched as his body was taken from the cross, wrapped in linen and placed in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimethea. Joseph himself had made certain a heavy stone was placed over the opening to the grave.

As she and her friends Salome and Mary the mother of James walked, Mary’s heart was gripped with concern. Thoughts raced through her mind. How would she get into the tomb to anoint the body? It was physically impossible for her to move the stone herself. It took several men to put it in place. Now what? Was her desire to anoint Jesus all for nothing? How could all of this happen anyway? Why did Judas betray her master? Why did Jesus allow himself to be taken and tried as a blasphemer? Why did all of his disciples but one abandon him? How is it possible the one who raised Lazarus from the grave was now in a grave himself?

Nothing made sense to her anymore.

As she carefully moved along the rocky pathway, suddenly the ground began to shake. Earthquake! Terror filled Mary’s heart. But it was not the violent shaking of the ground that frightened her. The stone was rolled away from the grave and sitting on it was a figure whose “appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.” The guards were lying on the ground like dead men.

Mary and the women with her were terrified! What was this dreadful apparition? What did it mean?

Then he spoke, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:5-6).

Entering the tomb, she gasped…the body was gone.

Immediately, Mary ran to get Peter. John, the disciple that Jesus loved, was there with Peter. Confused and out of breath, Mary shouts, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (Luke 20:2).

What?! They’ve what?!

Perplexed, Peter and John ran to the tomb. Mary ran with them as fast as she could. John outpaced Peter and reached the tomb first. He wouldn’t go in but glanced inside and saw the linens that had wrapped the body of Jesus. Peter then reached the tomb and went straight inside.  He too saw the linens and the cloth that covered the head of the one Peter had once proclaimed as the Son of the living God. None of this made sense to Peter.

By this point, Mary is overcome with emotion. She stands outside the tomb and weeps. It was bad enough that Jesus died, but now his body is gone. She cannot anoint him. Everything seems lost.

Then Mary hears a voice behind 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”).

Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects of this remarkable encounter between Mary and Jesus is that the miracle was standing right in front of Mary and she did not perceive it. This was all outside of Mary’s ideas about how things should work and what should happen.

Mary expected a king who would establish a tangible throne in Jerusalem and deliver the people from the hands of their Roman oppressors. But that’s not what happened. Something far greater was occurring but Mary couldn’t see it. Instead, she was filled with sorrow, grief, anger, confusion, frustration, and disappointment. Her anticipated king was dead. Nothing else mattered.

Sometimes, God is working in our lives but because it’s not exactly what we anticipated or it runs counter to our own ideas, our own purposes, our own agenda, we simply can’t see the miracle right in front of us.

In fact, it was not until Jesus called Mary by name that her eyes were opened, her heart opened and she recognized her Lord.

When she hears her name, she finally understands that Jesus is alive! Jesus called her by name, and everything changed.

On this resurrection Sunday, we need to remember that in spite of our pain, our disappointments, our mistakes, the death of our dreams, our sorrows, our failures, and, yes, even our denials, Jesus is ALIVE and He still knows our name.

Everything changes when we hear Jesus whisper our name. Our perspective is transformed.

Perhaps you’re in a season of your life where bitterness overwhelms you. There’s still hope. Jesus still knows you by name and gently calls you to himself.

Perhaps someone you love has passed and you feel so confused and angry. Perhaps you’ve even lashed out at God. How could a loving God allow this to happen? In the midst of your confusion and anger, there’s still hope. Jesus is alive and He understands your pain. He’s calling you by name.

Maybe you once walked closely with Jesus. But time and life have taken their toll on you. Now you feel distant and filled with doubt. So did Thomas. Yet, Jesus called him by name and helped him overcome his doubts. He will do the same for you. Come to the empty tomb. The risen Savior is calling your name.

On this Resurrection Sunday, Jesus is alive! As the hymnist wrote,

Death cannot keep his Prey,
Jesus, my Savior;
He tore the bars away,
Jesus, my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

It has been our privilege at Faith & Liberty to join with you in this Countdown to the Resurrection. We hope and pray you’ve been encouraged by our season together in the Word of God.

And now, on this Easter Sunday, we join with you again to proclaim, He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Amen.


Faith & Liberty is an evangelistic ministry, taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nation's top elected and appointed officials. Our mission is simple: To bring the Word of God to bear on the hearts and minds of those that make public policy in America. We rely on your support to accomplish this important ministry. Thank you for your generosity.


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