Summary: The reality of the resurrection dawned slowly on those involved. Each was missing a crucial piece of the story. How does Jesus put the story of His new life together for you?
In broadcasting or film making there are several types of ways of getting from one scene to another. Two of the most common are a cut and a fade. In a cut one scene is suddenly replaced with another. In a fade one scene fades out to black and is then slowly replaced with another that fades back up from black.
For the disciples of Jesus Christ, the crucifixion was a cut. Suddenly and with great force Jesus is taken, tried, and executed. Everything they had put their trust into was yanked away from them. In the emotion and turmoil of the moment they are not thinking about the fact that Jesus predicted all this would happen, and said that he would die and rise.
They are anxious, fearful, grief-stricken, hopeless, and alone. That Sabbath must have been the most difficult they had ever experienced.
Sunday morning dawned, and just as the light of day slowly replaced the dark of night. So too did the light of the fact of Jesus’ resurrection slowly fade in on the disciples. It was not all at one that they knew he was alive, but it happened slowly, in fits and starts, until the awesome reality set in and the rejoicing could replace the mourning. Let’s see how that reality dawned on them.
Mary & the Women – filled with grief
Mary and the other women could not stand up before the Roman governor but they could stand with Jesus at the cross and were so devoted to Him that they were the first to know of the Resurrection.
The stone was rolled away so others could get in, not so that Jesus could get out
The women, some of whom stood by Jesus until the end, had returned to the tomb to anoint his body. It was dark and all they could make out was that something had happened at the tomb. The stone was gone.
They haven’t learned the whole story yet, but they run back and report what they saw to the disciples. Luke says that Peter and the boys thought they were out of their minds with grief and were telling tales. But something in their voice must have sparked something in Peter and John for out they went, running to see what had happened.
Peter & John – filled with curiosity
3 – 4
I think there must have been this running rivalry between Peter and John. So I love how John points out that in a foot race to the tomb he won!
5 – 10
What were they thinking? I’m sure it wasn’t about resurrection. Perhaps someone stole the body to further desecrate it?
Apparently, the way the grave cloths were situated in the tomb is significant to Peter and John’s “belief” (but belief in what?). There is some suggestion that the layering of the spices and aloes in the strips of linen would form a sort of cast that would have stayed in its same shape if a body resurrected through it. So you would have a Jesus shaped cloth with no body in it!
So now we go from simply realizing that Jesus isn’t there to the realization that this is no ordinary empty tomb. Jesus is not the victim of grave robbers or anyone else moving his dead body. Something special happened in that tomb.
Mary Magdalene – filled with longing
11 – 18
Why didn’t Mary recognize them as angels? She was probably crying too much. This is a woman whose sole focus is on finding her Lord. They want to know why she is crying. Normally, people cry at gravesides. In reality, this was to be a time of great joy. Jesus had risen. She doesn’t know this yet. In her eyes, the grief of losing Jesus has been compounded by not being able to say goodbye and mourn over his body.
She probably turned, realizing he really wasn’t there and sees a man whom she confuses as the gardener. Jesus asks her the same question but adds “whom are you seeking?” He gives her the formal greeting of “woman” and acts like a stranger. Jesus in his resurrected body was not immediately recognizable until he wanted to be. In this case, it is when he speaks. On the road to Emmaus it is when he breaks bread (He is the bread of life, He is the Word of life).
It dawns on Mary that not only is the tomb empty and that something special happened in there but that the man who they thought dead was not dead any more.
“Don’t cling to me,” he says to her. It could mean several things. Perhaps she is physically holding on to him. Having lost him once she is not going to lose him again. In reality, Jesus would have to leave again to send the promise of the Holy Spirit. Mary could not keep him all to herself.