Summary: Do our trials soften, harden or transform us for Him? A look at 3 witnesses of the empty tomb.
Lou Holtz, the famous coach of Notre Dame football fame, said, “life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond.” A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as though just as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."
Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did, and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?" Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had transformed the water.
Life is 10% what happens to us, 90% how we respond to it. Do our trials soften us toward God, harden us toward God or transform us for God?
I want to take us back to the tomb on that Sunday morning. I want us to feel the gravity of the situation, and see the responses of 3 people, who were very dear to Jesus.
First is Mary Magdalene. Magdalene was not her last name, but rather where she was from, the town of Magdala, from around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had cast 7 demons out of her Luke 8:2 tells us. Mary had become one of Jesus’ most loyal disciples. She was present at the crucifixion and now in John 20, is the first one to arrive to the tomb. Why? Jesus had been put in the tomb so quickly on Friday evening, the beginning of the Sabbath, that they didn’t have time to really prepare Jesus body for proper burial. She was coming with spices and so forth to take care of Jesus’ body.
Where is her mind? On the here and now. On the task ahead. The one I’ve been following for 3 years, the man who filled your soul by just looking at you, …he’s dead. I was there. I witnessed it with his mother and the disciple John. It’s over. The man who delivered me from 7 demons, who freed me from involuntary spiritual battle, …he’s gone. The least I can do is honor him by anointing his remains. Life is over as Mary knew it, and instead of hiding in fear, or wallowing in grief, she pulls herself up in her bootstraps, so to speak, and gets on with it. Off to the tomb to bring her burial spices.
But when she got there, the tomb was rolled away! So she runs to Peter and John and tells them, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!” Interesting first reaction. Practical. If the body isn’t there, obviously someone had moved it. Bodies don’t get up and move on their own. Because they are dead. Dead people don’t move, right?
Insult to injury here. Not only killed, hope smashed, but now indignity. Did the Romans do it? Who moved the body? In verse 11 of ch.20, Mary is beyond distraught. She is at the tomb weeping. She had a direction before: anoint the body. Now she cannot even do that for Jesus. Where to go from here? In that moment 2 angels show up standing in the tomb at the head and foot of where Jesus body had been. They ask her why she’s crying. Mary again says that someone has taken Jesus’ body. Mary is bewildered by it all. Cannot understand what’s happened.