I’m not sure where this Easter finds you. Maybe in church. Maybe at brunch. Maybe visiting family – man, I sure miss my family. Maybe at home. Maybe happy. Maybe excited and expectant. Maybe afraid and confused. No matter how it finds you, I can assure you that we’ve all been there.
As a child, my Easter mornings were similar to that of my children today. Bunnies, candy filled eggs and new short-sleeved attire. How does the Easter Bunny know just what you need? But, I’ve also had Easter mornings filled with confusion, doubt and, as much as I hate to admit it, disbelief. Trying to reconcile my situation with the glory that is this holiday.
And, if that’s you today, let me tell you that you’re in good company. See, when Jesus died on the cross, hope was lost. Even though Jesus foretold his death and resurrection time and time again, no one really understood exactly what was going on. And, when you think of it, why would they?
Sure, they understood sacrifice as it pertained to the law but not as it pertained to love. Animal sacrifice, for the Jewish people, offered a temporary covering of sin, but no one really understood that Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice. Even though his whole ministry was building to that moment, who would ever think he would really die?
Confusion, doubt and disbelief. This is what his followers felt as they watched the Messiah, their king and deliverer, take his last breath nailed to a cross. And, they were scared. Let’s not forget how scared they must have been. They followed the man, believed in him and proclaimed that he was the Son of God. Were they next?
Now, we, 2000 years later, know the rest of the story, but we must remember that on the third day no one was expecting a resurrected savior. They weren’t hopeful. There wasn’t a crowd outside the tomb counting down the hours and the minutes. There was no parade or confetti. Jesus was dead and hope was lost.
So much so that when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that it was empty, she thought that someone stole the body of Jesus. She never even considered resurrection. Even when she saw Jesus, she thought he was the gardener. It wasn’t until he said her name, “Mary” that she recognized him (John 20:16).
I’m not sure why this grabs my attention, but I have to believe that John added this detail for a purpose.
You see, the death of Jesus was the ultimate atonement, or payment, for sin but resurrection is the ultimate redemption. When Jesus died, he made a payment and when he rose again, bought our freedom. He conquered the grave freeing us forever from sin and death.
And, although I cannot be completely sure of this, I have to believe that when Jesus said, “Mary” she began to understand. Understand all the things that had taken place over the last few years and especially the last few days. Maybe she began to understand the suffering and the cross. Maybe she began to understand the sacrifice for her sins. Maybe she began to understand freedom, grace and love. Nevertheless, when she turned to him and said, “Rabboni” meaning teacher, it is evident that something changed.
Maybe she didn’t completely understand all that was happening, but in that moment, when Jesus called her name, death became life. She was no longer without hope. Confusion, doubt and disbelief began to fade and a new story of redemption commenced.
This, my friends, is the power of the resurrection. You see, overcoming death not only provides eternal life, but also true freedom as we live.
Freedom from guilt and shame.
Freedom from our sin and our transgressions.
Freedom labels and stigmas.
Freedom from the law and religion.
Freedom in Christ through the resurrection breaths life into darkness.
See, on the cross Jesus paid for your sins, but through the resurrection he will rewrite your story. A story of redemption. A story of freedom, grace and love. A story of life breathed into hopeless situations.
And, just as Jesus called out to Mary, he calls out to you. In the confusion, in the darkness, right in the middle of whatever you’re facing. He says your name, inviting you to the freedom and the power of the resurrection.
So, no matter how you find yourself this Easter. All dressed up making pretty pictures in pastel clothing or right in the middle of confusion, doubt and disbelief…or maybe both. Just remember that everything can change in an instant, just as it did for Mary. Agony and heartbreak becomes hope, confusion becomes peace, shame becomes freedom, confusion fades, death becomes life and through the power of the resurrection our story of redemption begins the moment we believe in and acknowledge the One who calls our name.
Happy, Happy Easter