Jesus called Lazarus and he came out of the grave and almost a week later, Mary, though not in the darkness of the grave, she was in darkness of familiarity, mourning, and loss, when her life goes on in different direction. The miracle of resurrection started when Jesus called Mary by her name and she knew who he was, not based on the past familiarity but now as the living Lord. Two related factors delayed her recognition of Christ. One was her unexpectancy, and the other was her preoccupation. Mary was preoccupied with her past experience, her beautiful memories of Jesus – the man, for whom she grieve and painful memories for whom she bleed. She wanted to find Jesus’ body in Joseph’s garden, in the tomb where it had been placed, she did not expect him to be walking around outside the tomb. Mary was totally disappointed, Jesus’ appearance to her was totally unexpected, and at first she did not recognize him hence, she calls Jesus, Rabbouni, his Friday name, on Resurrection day. The reflection is that Jesus is not limited by and to human calculations and denominational boxes and tomb of traditions/ideologies, but in personal encounter with the Risen Lord. Many are reluctant to recognise and accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour because his story did not fit in to their human interpretation and expectation. Resurrection is not a form of re-animation of a person after death, Christ resurrected life is our model and divine energy for mission.
After the resurrection encounter, Jesus gave Mary the first command to proclaim and preach to Jesus’ disciples, death had been defeated. She was to proclaim resurrection as the cure of spiritual and physical death. The effect of proclamation and preaching of Jesus’ resurrection without its personal encounter is comparable to a driver performing surgical operation in the hospital theatre room hence death and decline in churches. Not all Israel is Israel; ethnic Israel is different from true Israel (Rom 9:6). God brings into being the true Israel by ‘sending his Son, Jesus Christ, as the true Seed of Abraham, the true Son of David, and, in a profound sense, the true Israel himself. Jesus fulfilled all that Israel was destined for. And now every person, Jew or Gentile, who trusts in Christ, is united to him and becomes part of this true Israel in Christ.’
Mary was close to Jesus but could not recognise him until the encounter, she took Jesus for a gardner. Are you still taking Jesus to be a gardner like Mary? John Wesley was in the ministry, institutionally licensed without the encounter until May 24, 1738, when he felt his heart strangely warmed. Resurrection calls us to stop focusing on the empty Tomb of our familiarity and those thing that hinder us from hearing what the gardner is saying. Resurrection is the life-giving love of God that is always ready to move the stones that keep life at bay away in the tomb. Resurrection is the new breath of God that creates new life; a call to stop weeping like Mary because of your past loss.
The cure of death through Jesus’ resurrection as the answer to the pray ‘Thy Kingdom come,’ is the uniqueness of Christian faith we are called to bear witness to as Christians. The cure of death according to William Bill Self is not the artificial grass at the cemetery or the ‘makeup on the corpse in preparing it for the viewing,’ He explained that ‘we deny death with our language,’ and we camouflage death and run from it by daily exercise, taking our vitamins, and regular appointment with doctors. The truth remains, Jesus’ Resurrection as the heart and power for effective ministry, discipleship, and leadership is the cure of death and an assurance that Jesus is coming again. Resurrection is about new creation, change and deliverance from our hidden places and upper rooms of ego, fear, death and unforgiveness. Jesus’ resurrection calls us to the new life on the other side of the tomb. The stone has been rolled away. No more weeping, it is time to open our eyes to the truth. Jesus’ resurrection calls us like Mary into usefulness, mission and evangelism, to go and tell others and those in the upper rooms of tradition, philosophy, anger, unforgiveness, and unbelief that Jesus is risen. Resurrection is about God’s kingdom on earth, meeting the need of the world, as it is in heaven. Using the words of Karl Marx, without resurrection ‘Christianity is a wish-fulfilling religion.’ Remember, true resurrection is the cure of death and the pointer to Jesus’ second coming. ARE YOU PREPARED?
Let us pray and ask God for His resurrection power to visit us and take us out of our upper rooms, our hidden places, and tombs. Let us pray for the victims of terrorists in Iraq.