Saturday, April 27, 2013

At the Tomb

"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... Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 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.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" (John 20:1, 11-15a)
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When Mary Magdalene stood facing the empty tomb of Jesus that blessed Easter Morning, she burst into tears. Jesus wasn't there. She'd watched Him die in the most brutal way imaginable only three days earlier, and all she wanted to do was visit His body.

We taste a small portion of that same sadness we pray for God to heal us, and we stay sick. We feel a little of that helplessness when we ask Him to save a loved one from death and watch them die anyway. We know some of her anguish when we beg God to help us out of trouble but seem to struggle alone. We feel her heartbreak a little when we lose our ability to walk despite our years of offering and service in God's house, when we turn on the news to bombs and gunfire in our very own streets, when our parents lose their minds to dementia, when our bodies betray us, when each day is filled with pain. 

We know her agony when we weep at the tombs of our loved ones, of our health, of our hopes and dreams and expectations. In those dark hours, you and I, like Mary, fail to recognize Jesus for who He really is. All we see is a man who couldn't save Himself, a man who has disappeared and left us all alone.

But in the middle of all that aching sadness, you and I are blessed because we know now what Mary Magdalene didn't know then: the whole story of the Christ, the Son of God. We know that what looked like weakness was actually the greatest, most powerful miracle in all of heaven and earth. The Son of God sacrificed Himself for us. Our seemingly infinite list of pain and suffering does have an end: it ended on that terrible and beautiful cross.

Our lives can seem like one long Good Friday. Sin remains in us and all around us, BUT it does not consume us. Take heart: your Easter Morning is coming because His Good Friday has already been. In the meantime, God is with you as you weep at the tombs of what should have been, though Satan would have you believe otherwise. God is with you for Christ’s sake because Christ chose to die for you, and nothing can sever you from God’s love even though the world has severed from you from those you love best like the grave separated Mary from her Savior. But only for a little while. Nothing will keep you and your loved ones from that same Resurrection of Jesus. He has overcome the world, and like an Easter morning following a Good Friday, our grief will be replaced with joy.

Knowing all that, spending time weeping at tombs seems a fairly silly thing to do.

Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is from John 20:15
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"Why are you weeping? -------> 5 count inhale
Whom are you seeking?" -------> 5 count exhale

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