Three days pass from the noonday darkness, quaking earth, torn temple veil, and cry of, “It is finished.” I picture God looking at the tomb from above, then looking over at the chosen angel, and with a nod and grin saying, “Let’s go, boys…time to open this thing up.”
Three excruciating days Mary waits for an appropriate time to go to the tomb. Likely going on no sleep, the day has finally arrived. While still dark, she makes her way to the resting place of her beloved Lord. But the stone is rolled away. Frightened, she goes to get the others. John and Peter go in. It is empty. They frantically look around assessing the situation. The linen grave clothes are tossed to the side, but the cloth that was on Jesus’ head is folded neatly in a place by itself. John made sure to preserve this for us to read thousands of years later. The God of order, the Prince of Peace, did not leave in a hurry. He took His time; he folded His face cloth.
Not sure what to make of it, the disciples retreat yet again into hiding, while Mary makes her way back to the tomb. In conversation with who she thinks is the local gardener, she hears, “Mary.” Her heart skips a beat. She can hardly breathe. Immediately she knows with whom she is speaking. “Go, tell the others…,” Jesus proclaims.
Doors locked, huddled in fear, uncertainty, and a sprinkle of hope, the disciples gather and wait. Minutes feel like hours as time drips drips drips by. Day melts into evening.
Suddenly Jesus appears standing among them. “Peace be with you,” He says. His words proclaim the opposite of what they had been feeling. Still processing how in the world He got in through the locked doors, He shows them His hands and sides. Don’t be mistaken; this is no ghost or vision. This is the real thing. Again, “Peace be with you.” But this time He adds, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Then He breathed on them. I imagine the intimacy of His presence and gift to them. Did he one by one gently grab them by the shoulders, lock eyes with them, and exhale?
There is no door, no barrier, no emotion Jesus can’t break through to get to us. Nothing is beyond His reach, even when we are too scared to seek Him at the moment. He comes with peace, proof, purpose, and power.
“Peace be with you.” - In Jesus, we can have peace. When our hope, faith, trust is in Him, peace will prevail.
“…He showed them His hands and His side…” – Yes, we have faith. To Thomas Jesus says, “blessed are those who have not seen and believe.” But along the way, we are given many proof points to bolster our faith. Many hints, foreshadowing and fulfilled prophecies. We have faith, and we can know. John ends this chapter saying these things/signs he has written, “…so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” – We aren’t living an aimless, waiting-for-heaven existence. We have a purpose. To go and tell what we have seen and experienced. To show what it looks like to be forgiven, and to offer that forgiveness to others in the name and work ofJesus.
“Receive the Holy Spirit…” – Approximately seven weeks later Jesus will have ascended, and the Holy Spirit will come in a mighty way. A power that will transform the disciples from frightened men behind locked doors to bold men of God willing to die rather than stop proclaiming the Gospel. And this same power is available to us when we believe.
God spoke through messengers and prophets in the Old Testament. The Gospels tell of the life and work of God in the flesh, His resurrection, and ascension back to His rightful throne. The story continues with the arrival of the Holy Spirit coming into each of us; God with us. In God’s great story, the baton is being passed, and it is currently in our hands. We have His peace, proof, power, and purpose. We have a commission to go and continue the work; to continue the story fueled by God in us. The face cloth is folded neatly in the tomb. The story is planned from the beginning and won’t be rushed. Step into it. Run the race set out for you to continue the story. There is still work to do, and we have been created for this purpose; for His glory. It is finished, but we are not as long as we have breath. For one day Jesus WILL return.
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