Thoughts About Easter

Easter Thoughts

The day had been planned. She wakes up early before the sun has brightened the sky. Her heart is broken. She is weary from grief and each time she closes her eyes, she has the mental images of Jesus being tortured and brutally crucified. There is no rest from her sorrow. Mary is approaching the tomb in the dark hours of the early morning. She sees that the large rock, sealing the tomb where Jesus is buried has been moved! The tomb is opened!

I think she reacted like I would have…with panic! Confusion! Doubt! Unbelief!

Based on what she saw, she quickly surmised that, “They have taken his body away!” Mary completely forgot what Jesus promised he would do on the third day. She turns and quickly runs to find her friends. I imagine her running on a dirt path as fast as she possibly could, stumbling over rocks, tired, sweaty and breathless. Her friends, Peter and John listened as she told them, “They have taken his body away!” and they too ran quickly to see for themselves.

Peter and John looked inside the tomb…they  went inside the tomb and they believed. They saw with their eyes and they believed that Jesus rose from the dead. Even though they did not fully understand the things Jesus had told them before, they truly believed. They didn’t let doubt or unbelief cloud their vision. They believed that Jesus rose again from the dead, even if they could not totally grasp or understand all of it.

This is what I think… the stone that sealed the tomb was rolled away not for Jesus to get out but for us to look in! 

I imagine them walking away from the tomb quite dumb founded but with a heightened adrenaline surge to do something! What ever that something was, is most likely what they were talking about as they walked away and left Mary alone at the tomb.

Alone, so she thought. Crying and somewhat timid, she walked over to the tomb. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to go inside a burial chamber either and would have done the same thing as Mary. Bend over, poke my head inside for a quick look-see! I’m sure her heart was beating fast. I wonder if she bumped her head at the opening of the tomb upon seeing two angels!  They proceeded to ask her why she was crying. “They have taken his body away!”

Mary saw the same thing as Peter and John. No, actually she saw more than they did. Mary had a conversation with two angels! Yet, Mary continued to make the wrong assumption and incorrect accusations. Mary doubted. She doubted and did not believe because she didn’t stop to think about the words Jesus had said to her before. Mary believed Jesus then, but she was not believing now.

And then she turns around and sees…a gardener?  No, it is Jesus but because her mind is clouded with doubt and unbelief, she does not recognize her beloved. He asks her the same question and she proceeds to plead with “the gardener” to tell her where Jesus’ body has been taken. She still doesn’t see.

Instead of answering her question, Jesus said her name, “Mary.”

I love this! Jesus called Mary by her name!  She immediately recognizes Jesus. She knows his voice. She hears him. She sees him. Mary believes! Jesus tells her to go…and she runs (much faster now, I imagine) to tell the others, “I have seen the Lord!”

This is what I think… Jesus speaks in to her unbelief. Jesus paid the ultimate price for her unbelief. 

I think it’s okay and good to look inside the empty tomb over and over again. Whenever I doubt that God loves me, I look inside that empty tomb. Whenever I doubt that I can trust God no matter what, I look inside that empty tomb. And when I don’t believe, I cry for Him to help my unbelief  while asking Him to forgive me for that unbelief. Jesus paid the ultimate price for that!

It is Easter morning, already! Let’s celebrate again and again! Let’s run and tell others, “I have seen the Lord!”

John 20:1-18 (ESV)

The Resurrection

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her,“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,“Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.


In Pursuit of a Gospel-Centered Community

The following is a few thoughts from my Sunday devotional: In Pursuit of a Gospel-Centered Community. Where is this community? Wherever I work, live and play. There is nothing deeper and stronger than the gospel on which to build community.

Let Love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13 ESV)

Let love be genuine: True gospel-saturated community is authentic.

Abhor what is evil: A gospel-centered community will embrace people in their brokenness while making war on sin. Don’t abhor people but abhor evil.

Love one another with brotherly affection: A Jesus-centered gospel calls us to possess a deep brotherly love as we would for our own family, this is a familial affection.

Out do one another in showing honor: Affection for the Lord leads to affection for others, resulting in out doing one another in honor. [1]

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord: Relationships go deep when arms are linked in a great cause that you are ready to lay down your lives for. Stir up zeal for God and for the cause of God and truth and life. Be passionate in your spirit. [2]

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer: When life is hard, we can either give up on hope or get it from joy. Tribulation drives the roots of joy down into hope  and fight to be constant in prayer, God acts when we pray. [3]

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality: Lavish mercy, give from your wealth, mentor others, teach a skill, open your lives and the doors of your home.

Being in pursuit of a gospel-centered community is a “forever journey.” The only way that we are able to do any of this is answered in Romans 12:1 (The Message)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

[1] Matt Chandler, Creature of the Word, page 59    [2] John Piper:  Be Strong and Fervent in Spirit,  ❘  [3] John Piper: Happy in Hope, Patient in Pain, Constant in Prayer

The Christmas Story: as told by children

The Christmas Story as told by the children of St Paul’s Church, Auckland New Zealand

This is delightful to watch!