Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” – Matt 28:5-6
Theologically, without Calvary, Bethlehem would be in vain hence, the short distance between Bethlehem and Calvary summons us to take into account the eternal consequence of the death of Jesus born in Bethlehem. Talking about Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem without appropriating the essence of his crucifixion at Calvary promotes the commercialisation and secularisation of Christianity. The Psalm for Easter Sunday says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” The eternal truth is that, above all days, Resurrection Day is a day of joy and hope and this resonates with the Christian celebration of Resurrection every Sunday. Our Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May in her Easter message rightly described Easter as triumph of hope and this is a challenge to the church to arise and spread the message of hope to the world. Easter is about hope in the midst of our hopelessness in death, hunger, and divisions in the world. The truth is that changing a nation does not start with the President or Prime Minister, it starts with the Church.
The Gospel reading from John 20 suggests two main results of Jesus’ Resurrection to prophetically revive our passion for Jesus’ supremacy over all things. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain… If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins…. But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep (1 Cor. 15:14, 17, 20). Preaching and faith that does not celebrate or belief in Jesus’ Resurrection promotes vanity. The reflection is that, the potency of the gospel is based on Jesus’ Resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection is the power behind the potency of our faith, productiveness of our faith, power of our preaching, worship, and mission. Jesus’ Resurrection gives power to overcome sin, the foretaste of our rapture, and how to walk in the newness of life. A major outcome of Jesus’ Resurrection is that because Jesus Christ rose, we have hope to also rise with him. The understanding is that Christian don’t die for ever, we only change address. Jesus’ Resurrection was the beginning and guarantee of our resurrection. Our hope is that, God has the final say and death is not the finality of our existence as Christian. The outcome of Jesus’ Resurrection is that our sins are dealt with, with the promise of a new beginning, we become regenerated with a hope for the future that goes beyond the grave. One of the hindrances to the blessings of Jesus’ Resurrection is human hard heartedness, pride, and sin of unbelief just like some of the disciples were sceptical about the news of Jesus’ Resurrection. The Roman official remembered Jesus’ word that he will rise on the third day, hence they put the seal of Rome on the tomb but Jesus’ disciples were sceptical. The reflection is that, people in the world today even know more about God’s promises and laws than the church goers. The hope in the power of Jesus’ Resurrection is that human power or seal is inconsequential to God who is able through severe earthquake broke Rome’s seal. The post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ shows that ‘the stone was not rolled away to let Jesus out but to let the women, and later the disciples, in.’ In verse 19 of John chapter 20, Jesus was able to appear in a room full of disciples without the door being opened and said to them, “Peace be unto you.” The outcome of Jesus’ Resurrection is about hope for those in prison, captivity to receive divine visitation. The power of Resurrection is not limited by time and space. The question is, who rolled the stone away?
Resurrection is about the darkest hour just before the dawn. Mary’s action also suggests another missional outcome of Jesus’Resurrection. While other eleven disciples were in hiding, “mourning and weeping” in the upper room, Mary went to the empty tomb “while it was dark,” Mary is lost, like many people today staying rooted and doing the same thing, anointing Jesus corpse without the least idea what to do or expect next. She was alone in John’s gospel when she encounters Jesus outside the tomb and taken Jesus to be a gardener. Like many today even in the church, Mary would not let go the way things used to be. Mary’s preoccupation and unexpectancy of Jesus’ Resurrection delayed her recognition of Jesus. The truth is that our preoccupation with activities could delay our encounter with Jesus. When Jesus asked Mary ‘whom seekest thou?’ Jesus was asking Mary, about a person, but Mary was looking for a dead body and not seeking for the Saviour. Like many today, Mary wanted to find Jesus, but she did not expect him to be walking outside the tomb. When Jesus called Mary by name, the Bible says, ‘She turned herself.’ At the first recognition, Mary called Jesus “Rabbonni,” Jesus’ Friday name, but it is a new day, a new beginning of relationship with her Saviour. Mary’s action, especially her turning in response to Jesus call resonates with the way Jesus called Lazarus by name and dead Lazarus came alive. Beloved until you respond to Jesus’ call for the salvation of your soul and turn from your sin of unbelief, you may still be serving and looking after Jesus’s dead body and not seeking after him for your salvation. Resurrection begins the moment you encounter Jesus and your view about death will change. Jesus has conquered death to make you and I a new creation. The moment Mary meets her Risen Lord, her grief turns to joy and she brings to us the good news that has been proclaimed throughout the ages, “I have seen the Lord.”