Summary: Emotions ran high for those who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. How those emotions changed and what changed them made the difference between faith and disbelief.
For many of us, when I say the word "Easter" or "Resurrection Sunday" or even "Third Day" it brings things to mind. If you are a Christian you may think of the empty tomb, or of the angels and Jesus’ visit to the disciples. If you are not a Christian you might think of the Easter Bunny or "maybe I should pay my annual visit to church" or "man, there they go again talking about all that Jesus nonsense-can’t we be done with that already?"
This morning I want you to strip away all the baggage that comes with Easter, all the pre-conceptions and memories-and I want you to pretend it is just happening. We see Resurrection Sunday from our side, but what about those who didn’t really know or understand its significance yet?
There are some vital states of mind and some even more vital transformations that take place in four key players or groups of players in the resurrection account that can help us as we discover, or re-discover the most important event in human history.
John and Peter: Incredulity turns to curiosity and then belief but without understanding
Luke 24:11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
The Disciples basically thought the women were out of their minds - that’s what the Greek "idle tale" denotes. These guys had been through so much: bravado at following Jesus even unto death had turned to cowardice in the garden and denial in the courtyard of the high priest to incredible grief at the crucifixion followed by intense fear that they would be next.
You can hardly blame their reaction to some of their women coming and saying that they had actually seen an empty tomb and an angel who reminded that Jesus told them He would not stay dead but would rise up again.
Perhaps the Disciples thought that grief had finally snapped something in Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women. Perhaps a collective hallucination or something.
But something in what they said must have sparked something deep inside of them - a curiosity or a memory of something Jesus had indeed said (after all, He had told the Disciples He was to be killed and three days later rise at least three times!)
So John and Peter decide they better check this out for themselves, and off they go - running in fact.
John 20:3-10 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.
So a witness brings information about Jesus that they had not counted on. Their own eyes then confirm it - but what had really happened? It says they "believed" but believed what? An empty tomb? Grave robbers? It didn’t match up, though, since the grave cloths were situated in a way no grave robber would have left them.
The problem was that they did not yet understand that God had spoken beforehand of Jesus’ death, burial, AND resurrection. It wasn’t until later, when Jesus actually appeared before them personally and then "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" that their unbelief turned to belief (Luke 4:45).
Mary: grief turns to great joy (continuing on in John 20)
John 20:11-18 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They 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."
Mary Magdalene had given her all to Jesus - trusted Him completely. When He died so did she. She loved Jesus so much that even in death she couldn’t leave Him but came to the tomb, not understanding at all what had happened. Her grief clouded everything. All she knows is she wants to cling to the Jesus she had. At that point she did not know all that Jesus had really done for her. So then, something happens: