John 20 was read in many churches around the world on this Easter Sunday. It tells of Mary Magdalene finding the stone removed from the tomb where the dead body of Jesus had been laid, then running to tell Simon Peter and (probably) John. Those two explored the situation, then left again, with Mary still crying outside the tomb.
That’s when the story becomes intensely interesting, because that is where Mary encountered Jesus. She didn’t know it was him, though, until he spoke her name. After all, who would have expected Jesus — the one whose death she had watched a few days before — to show up, fully alive and conversational?
What captures my heart is Jesus’ response: “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (emphasis mine).
What a statement of connection!
Take a look at these words from the Apostle Paul: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:1, 15-17).
Easter is central to the Christian faith because through the death of Christ we have forgiveness of sin, and through the resurrection of Christ we have amazing hope. These are available to all people — absolutely everyone! — who believe Jesus, confess their need for him, and invite him into their lives.
If you have reason to celebrate this hope, then celebrate like crazy today. And if you don’t yet know Christ, take this opportunity to meet him. If you’re not sure, and would like to talk more about what this means, I’d love to talk with you.