Summary: This is an Easter sermon that speaks to the good news of Jesus' resurrection.
John 20:1-18 ~ The Son Always Rises! (9)
In the pre-dawn hours of that spectacular Sunday morning in Jerusalem so many years ago, there was no one who expected anything new, no one lying sleepless in anticipation that the world soon would change forever, no one with the even the slightest notion that their simple lives might in any way be altered by the rising of the sun.
The male students of the radical rabbi who'd recently lost his life in a gory display of religious bigotry and political intolerance were still sleeping lightly and restless behind locked doors, muttering to one another in whispers and only venturing out in shadows. Disappointed in the recent past, frustrated over their present circumstances, and worried that the future might turn out to be all too "nasty, brutish and short," they took small refuge in the covering of night hoping only that they'd live to see darkness fall again on the day that would soon be breaking.
The women (tired of rehashing current events amongst themselves and already beginning to chafe at how quickly the men had begun to relegate them back, solely, into their domestic roles) had awoken early, dressed and gone out into the lingering darkness to give some practical expression to their common grief. Women, especially when you consider the historically high rates of miscarriage and infant mortality, have always been on more intimate terms with cycle of life and death, and it should come as no surprise that they were the first to go out to face the cold reality of the corpse and grave.
For each of the disciples, male and female, there was a strange comfort in their grief; it was something familiar and dependable...not at all like their time with the Teacher. The miracles and mercies that had seemed to come one after another in His presence...they belonged to some other time and place, too good to be true...too good to last. The only wonder is that any of it happened at all, and that they were foolish enough to believe that the times really were changing. The heavy smell of myrrh and aloes were a strong reminder of the one thing in life we can always count on: ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
In spite of His best efforts, the Lord's people were almost totally unprepared for the new reality of the empty tomb.
Unprepared for good news, the women assumed that the body was stolen.
Unprepared for God's grace, Simon Peter and disciple whom Jesus loved left the tomb breathless and confused.
They were unprepared for the dawning of a new day.
Mary had trouble seeing him.
The others had trouble believing him.
When trouble is most of all you've known, then trouble is what you come to expect.
It's what you cling to in times of uncertainty.
Trouble is the story you stick to, if it's the only story you know.
That's why when verse eight tells us that when the other disciple looked into the empty tomb and "believed," what he believed was that the tomb was empty. That's all he believed. Verse nine goes on to make it clear that they did not yet know the Scripture, "that He must rise again from the dead."