Summary: The choices....we can have Jesus as an illusion, idol,or we can have him as God.
1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:1 - 18 (NRSVA)
If someone were to come into the building right now – someone we all know – and announce, “I’ve just seen Jesus,” we would have perhaps a few questions immediately come to the foreground:
• What have you been smoking?
• What planet are you from? And…after the radical thoughts kind of died down…
• What did he look like?
That’s one of the driving issues a lot of people have about the resurrection; if the dead man, Jesus, really did come out of that tomb – what’s he like?
That was in the back of Peter’s mind when he hurried to the tomb that morning. Peter knew he’d blown it big-time by denying he even knew Jesus. Now, if Jesus really was alive again, Peter would have to face that.
John ran like the wind…faster than ever before…he got there first, but hesitated. Those thoughts of having promised Jesus he would follow him always…what if Jesus really was alive; how could John face the failure of his own unbelief?
And Mary - Mary wondered if anything else could go wrong, now that the body was missing; even in death her son was disrespected. She couldn’t even have a peaceful memory of him now.
Peter wanted a Jesus with a short memory; John needed a Jesus to forgive him; Mary just needed a body. And what about us – what kind of Jesus do we want?
I was impressed recently with a list I read of the kind of Jesus people want:
• A Jesus who taught about love, but not a Lord who commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).
• A Jesus who helped the unfortunate, but not a Lord who challenges us to sell what we own and give the money to the poor (Mark 10:21).
• A Jesus who paid visits to the temple, but not a Lord who cleanses and reforms all our traditional practices of worship (John 2:13-17).
• A Jesus who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners, but not a Lord who encourages us to embrace the very people we feel are beneath us (Matthew 11:19).
• A Jesus who supported family values, but not a Lord who predicts that he will cause divisions in families, father against son and daughter against mother (Luke 12:52-53).