Summary: A sermon for Easter.
“Becoming Resurrected People”
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb…”
“It was still dark.”
Why does John decide to make sure that little tidbit of information is in the story?
Is it by accident?
Is it to let us know that it was before sunrise that Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb—as soon as she could come following the Saturday Sabbath?
Or does it run deeper than that?
The Gospel of John uses light and darkness as metaphors throughout.
For instance, in the very first Chapter we are told that “In [Jesus] was life, and that life is the light…”
And, the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
Later, in John Chapter 3, Nicodemus, a man of the Pharisees and a member of the Jewish ruling council “came to Jesus at night.”
In other words, he came out of the darkness to the Light of Life.
Further along in that chapter Jesus says: “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…”
In the Gospel of John darkness represents chaos, despair, unbelief.
Light represents truth, faith, salvation.
And so, it was “still dark” when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.
She was living in a state of chaos, despair and unbelief.
And who could blame her?
Just a few days earlier, she had watched as the person she had loved more than anyone in the world was tortured, and brutally murdered—as the Person Who had loved her more than anyone else had ever loved her was brutally killed and tortured!!!
We don’t know a whole lot about Mary Magdalene, but we are told that Jesus had healed her of 7 demons.
We also know that she was one of His closest followers—even helping support His ministry financially.
And she was one of a small handful of people who did not desert Him when He was arrested and crucified.
Instead, she stood sobbing near the Cross along with Jesus’ mother, Mary the wife of Clopas and the disciple John.
She had heard Jesus say: “It is finished” as He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
She had seen the soldiers pierce Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
She had seen them take His lifeless body down from the Cross.
And she knew where He had been buried.
And now, all her hopes,
All her dreams,
The movement she had been part of had died along with Jesus.
And so, like so many mourners who go to visit the grave of a loved one, Mary headed to Jesus’ tomb to pay her respects.
She would weep and wail.
She would talk to Jesus, even though it would be more like just talking to herself.
And she would remember.
She would think about and remember all the good times, all the amazing healings, the laughter, the meals, the parables, the teachings, the excitement, the love.
After-all what else was she going to do?
The meaning in her life had faded away.
Her hope was gone.
Her life was a bad mess.
She was lost.
She was walking in the darkness, moving toward the remains of the Only One Who had ever given her a reason to live—the Only One in Whom she had truly experienced light and clarity of thought.
But when she got to the tomb, things became even more chaotic as she saw that “the stone had been removed from the entrance of [the tomb}.”
And so she ran, in pitch black darkness, with tears streaming down her cheeks to tell Peter and John that Jesus’ body had been stolen!!!
And when they got to the tomb, we are told that they saw Jesus’ grave clothes, but no body.
And John “believed.”
What did he believe under the dark shroud of misunderstanding?
He believed that someone had stolen Jesus’ body.
“Yes indeed. It was true.”
Peter and John went back to their homes, we are told, but not Mary.
Mary stayed and wept, and wept and wept.
Her heart was completely broken.
It must have ached in her chest.
Have you ever had a heart ache?
They are real.
I used to think it was just an expression until I experienced it for myself.
We are told that Mary “saw two angels…seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and other at the foot.”
They even asked her, “why are you crying?”
But she seems oblivious to the fact that they are angels.