Sunday, April 21              John 20:1-18     Rev. Beverly Springer

Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place. Then the other disciple, the one who arrived at the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.

11 Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. 13 The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14 As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

There was no tape recording, no photographs, no video cameras, no social media when the first Easter morning occurred 20 centuries ago. So how do we know about this incredible good news of the gospel of Jesus? When it happened, God saw to it that there were witnesses, and that the risen Christ appeared to witnesses in enough settings that they were fully convinced of his reality and could tell others and then write it down for us to read. And that’s what we have in John 20 – eyewitness accounts of the resurrection appearances of Jesus.

Mary was the first at the tomb and she stayed after everyone else had gone, weeping. Jesus came to her side. At first she did not recognize him. But when she heard his voice call her name, her sorrow was turned to hope. Jesus was not dead, but alive. He is risen! Mary hurried back to the disciples to share the wonderful news. “I have seen the Lord!”

Of all the miracles Jesus preformed, victory over death is most significant. The power of the resurrection was demonstrated not only 2000 years ago, but is also demonstrated today in the lives of people who are following Jesus Christ.

God continues today to call His people (those who believe) to be His witnesses. A witness is not expected to come up with new information but rather to faithfully testify to something that has been seen and heard and experienced. As Christians when we witness, we are not forcing someone into seeing things as we see things. We are simply and humbly telling others what God has done in our lives and how it has brought us such great joy and hope and peace. Are we the witnesses God intends us to be? Are we doing our part to ensure that all people will someday shout, “I have seen the Lord!”

Prayer:  God, we pray for those who know and those who do not yet know the Risen Savior.