Happy Easter! Is Jesus Christ alive and active in your life this Easter morning? Have you seen Jesus? In our passage today, there were three people who went to tomb that morning. The first was Mary Magdalene. Luke 8:1-3 gives us the most information about her. She was one of a group of women who helped to support Jesus and the disciples out of her own means. Not only that, Jesus had cast seven demons out of her. She experienced first-hand the power of Christ in her life and was a devoted follower. The gospels tell us that she was at the foot of the cross with Jesus' mother. As Jesus was being crucified, her heart was crushed. The Messiah she had hoped for and believed in was dead. Mark 16 tells us that when the Sabbath was over, Mary had brought spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body. Mary went to the tomb expecting to see a dead body.
The second person at the tomb that day was "the other disciple." He has traditionally been identified as the apostle John. John and his brother James, along with Peter were often in Jesus' inner circle. John also had a first-hand experience of Christ and was a devoted follower. When Mary woke him up with her news of the empty tomb, Mark had no idea what he would see. Although he got there before Peter, he was hesitant to enter.
The third person at the tomb that day was Peter. Peter is definitely one of the more colorful of the disciples. We remember Peter walking on water and his boastful claim that he would never betray Jesus and then his later failure. When Mary woke him up with the news, he went straight into the tomb to see what was going on.
It is interesting to me that not one of them came to the tomb saying, "Did Jesus rise again like He said He would?" They heard the teaching, saw the miracles, believed in the Messiah and the kingdom but tuned out the part about suffering, death and rising again.
This morning we are going to look at how each of the three had a unique experience of seeing the empty tomb.
In John 20:6-7, it reads "[Peter] saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus' head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen."
When Peter saw the linen strips, the word "saw' means to "look carefully, observe." So Peter, like a detective was carefully observing all of the clues left behind. If the body was stolen, why was the linen wrappings there? Who would walk around with a naked dead body? Why was the head cloth lying in it's place?
But in v.9 it reads "They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead." For all of Peter's careful observations, he didn't understand what had happened. And he goes back home. He didn't see Jesus.
After John sees Peter go boldly inside the tomb, John ventures in tentatively. When he sees the linen wrapping and the head covering, v.8 tells us that "he saw and believed." This word for "saw" means to "perceive with intelligent comprehension." Peter observed the empty tomb but John perceived the meaning of it. But how much of it did he really understand? For like Peter, John went back home too. He didn't really see Jesus either.
Finally Mary Magdalene gathers the courage to enter the tomb. During the time that Peter and John were in the tomb, she had been outside crying, thinking that someone had stolen the body. I'm sure she must have been puzzled when Peter and John left.
When Mary looks in, she sees two angels who ask her why she is crying. When she replies and turns back to them she sees another man whom she thinks is the gardener. It isn't until He speaks her name that Mary recognizes that it is Jesus.
She wants to cling to Him but Jesus gives her a message and mission instead. She is to go to the disciples and tell them that Jesus is ascending to their Father. She joyfully runs to the disciples with the news, "I have seen the Lord!"
Mary has seen Jesus!
As you look into the empty tomb this morning, who do you most resemble?
Do you identify with Peter? Who observed everything carefully, but still came away puzzled? Or do you identify with John? He saw and believed but it was a quiet, almost passive belief. Or maybe you can identify with Mary and you have had a true experience of the risen Christ!
Jesus is alive! He is risen! How will this affect your everyday life? Have you seen Jesus? Will you spread this good news?