Summary: Behind the scenes, the picture is not pretty, the first church, on the first Easter Sunday was not celebrating, they were scared spitless, do you identify with that?
Behind the scenes of the first Easter Sunday
Here we are the Sunday after Easter Sunday. What should we do as Christian believers? The fact is Christ is raised from the dead. But I wonder has the message of Easter gotten thru? I wonder if this message is really truly applied by believers? Have we deeply reflected on Christ’s passion and the power of His resurrected life? What do we do now?
Shall we cash in on this new discovery? Make an exhibit out of the empty tomb? Sell t-shirts that has the slogan “Jesus is risen” on ebay? Go and build some monuments to remember the resurrection? Make the movie sequel to the Passion of the Christ? Visit the site every Easter Sunday? What should Christians do?
Let me read you the story of the disciples on that first Easter as recorded by the gospel of John 20(NLT):
Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!”
3 Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. 4 The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side. 8 Then the other disciple also went in, and he saw and believed—9 for until then they hadn’t realized that the Scriptures said he would rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.
I believe many of us are there with those who first discovered the empty tomb, we see the evidence of the empty tomb, we know the facts. We agree that Jesus is raised from the dead. Like v.10 says “then they went home”. Went home? Here is the most incredible thing that has happened, Jesus who clearly was tortured on the cross and died, is now risen. One disciple saw and believed and yet their reaction was just to go home. Another, by the name of Mary Magdalene said: “I don’t know where they have put him.” For her it was a matter of somebody stealing the body, Jesus can’t be risen. Apparently, the information regarding the empty tomb did not really affect them too greatly. I wonder if that is where some of us are at. We see the evidence, go to church, we believe, we go home! Like Mary, some of us are prejudiced with the idea someone rising from the dead is just too fantastic, someone must have moved the body. Well, that’s all then, time to check out, go home.
But let’s read on in John 20.
11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 She glanced over her shoulder and saw someone standing behind her. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned toward him and exclaimed, “Teacher!”
17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.”
18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.
Let’s look at Mary’s reaction closely. She was crying outside the tomb where Jesus’ body laid. Here is Jesus risen, but she was crying. Why? Verse 13 says clearly, she believed someone has taken the body of Jesus away. In her grief she couldn’t recognize Jesus even if He was standing right in front of her, and He was.
I wonder if we are there too, some of us, that is? I wonder if we are crying in tombs of dead ambitions, crushed hopes, disappointment, how can things go so wrong, everything just went up in smoke it seems. Everything was so nice before. Jesus was around, it was great but then the came the cruxifixion of Jesus. Her world fell apart!