The Power of the Resurrection

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, `They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’” (John 20: 1 – 2 NIV)

From the accounts from the four gospels the tomb was first visited by Mary and other women who found that the stone had been removed. Mark reports that the women fled and told no one. This was true except that Mary told Peter and John who ran to the tomb and discovered the burial clothes at the site but lying in place as the body of Jesus had left them.

I have always been deeply moved by the interaction between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. It would appear that Mary understood what was to happen to Jesus better than the Twelve. When she wept over His feet, dried His feet with her hair, and anointed His head and feet with costly perfume Jesus recognized that she had done it to prepare for His burial:

“`Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. `It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.’” (John 12: 7, 8 NIV)

Mary listened and understood. Other disciples, including the Twelve, argued over their place in the coming physical kingdom of God and asked to sit at His right and left. Mary sat at His feet and actually listened. Mary went to the tomb before it was light on that first Easter morning. The women wondered how they could possibly move the heavy stone. They found that it had already been rolled away. From other accounts angels had appeared in great splendor and the guards set by the high priests to prevent the appearance of a resurrection had fled.

But, really, why was the stone rolled away? Jesus proved to the Twelve that He could enter a room with the doors locked. Jesus had left the burial clothes in the tomb to show what had happened. Jesus did not need to have the stone rolled away to leave. The stone was rolled away so that we could witness the empty tomb.

Mary stood outside the tomb weeping because the body of Jesus was missing. She understood that He would die for the sin of the whole world and, specifically, for her sins but she still had not considered the power of the resurrection. She turned to the person she thought was the gardener and asked where he might have put the body of Jesus. With the word, “Mary,” she recognized her Lord. Jesus was on the way to the Father and urged Mary to let him go as she clung to his feet:

“Jesus said, `Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20: 17 NIV)

And so . . . the story continues. On Good Friday Pope Francis addressed the Roman Catholics of the world that number about 1.2 billion. The total population of Christians in the world as of 2010 was about 2.2 billion. That figure comprised about 32% of the world population. Let these figures compare in contrast to the fact that Jesus gathered 12 disciples about him and that 120 were gathered on the Day of Pentecost. The truth of the power of the resurrection is that the kingdom of God will never end.