Imagine you are a disciple of Jesus. Your teacher and best friend, the one you believed to be Lord and Savior, was just brutally and unjustly murdered. You’re trying to regroup, piece together your shattered heart, sort out your utter confusion, and decide where to go from that point.
Then, several women bust into your hideout and tell you that Jesus is gone from His tomb, and two angels said that He has risen from the dead. What is your reaction? Well, if you’re anything like me, you react how they did initially…
“But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” ~Luke 24:11
All of them thought this is completely impossible. Honestly, as if this could all be made right, they may have scoffed.
All of them, but one…
“Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.” ~Luke 24:12
The thought of the resurrection was wild. Improbable. Offensive, even. But…what if? What if Jesus was truly the Son of God? What if He did conquer sin and even death? What if He was alive? At that moment, when Mary and Joanna and Mary (a lotta Marys in the Gospels) burst in to tell them this news, Peter’s hope, thought extinguished, began to flicker once again. And so he ran, as fast as he could. Because if it WAS true, he had reason to hope anew.
The last time we heard from Peter, he had just denied Christ three times to anyone who would listen. The rooster crowed, and Peter, filled with shame and remorse, wept bitterly. And THEN Jesus died. So, imagine the state Peter was in when he heard the news that Jesus had risen. Even if it WASN’T true, Peter needed to check it out for himself. So, he ran to the tomb…
Imagine you are Mary Magdalene. She, too, had a history with Jesus. She is widely recognized as the woman who washed Jesus’s feet with her most precious perfumes and dried them with her hair. She is also the woman caught in adultery, that Jesus treats with such humanity and tenderness when everyone else involved wanted her dead.
Peter walked on water, he saw Jesus calm a storm, feed five thousand people with a few sack lunches, and miraculously heal blindness, paraplegia, leprosy, and even death. Jesus was Savior to Peter through His power and might. Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, knew Jesus as Savior because she was absolutely captured by a love and a kindness that she’d never known before; a grace so life-altering that it MUST be from God Himself.
Remember, the disciples scattered after Jesus was arrested. But Mary Magdalene stayed. She was with Jesus as He hung on that cross. She heard him cry out. She saw Him die. She was there when He was buried. And she went to the tomb each day, a personal pilgrimage to be with Jesus, even a dead and buried Jesus because where else was she to go? This is love. And she knew how to love like this because she was first shown this love by Jesus, God in the flesh.
In Matthew, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb like normal and saw an angel of the Lord there. He confirmed that Jesus had risen and instructed them both to go tell the disciples. It says in Matthew 28:8 “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell the disciples.” These women also ran, hope growing with each step, believing that Jesus indeed rose from the dead!
I believe Jesus is calling us back to Himself now more than ever. He longs to reveal himself to us. And I think, especially, that He desires to show us how close He’s been to us all along. Jesus is there with us jumping up and down when we get into our college of choice, or buy our first home, or graduate from our rehab program. Jesus is there sitting quietly with us when we lose a loved one. When a business deal goes south. When our cancer returns. Jesus is never gone. And we are never beyond His reach. In fact, His nearness to you is true whether or not you believe in him.
Peter raced to the tomb not to mitigate the impact of being proven wrong, but to give himself every opportunity to confirm that Jesus is who He said He was. Mary runs to tell the disciples about Jesus’s resurrection because her joy was uncontainable. Even though along the way she encounters Jesus, her intent was to proclaim this good news without needing to see Him.
The late Christian author, Rachel Held Evans once said, “The story of Jesus is the story I’m willing to risk being wrong about.” This has always been super impactful to me. And I see this in both Mary Magdalene and Peter. Their faith was still alive even though their hope was on life support. They encountered Jesus. Spent time with Him. Stayed close to Him. They were going to cling to Him even if they were wrong. I want that faith. A faith that risks it all for the One I know is worth the risk. The implications of a risen Jesus were of such value to them that it was worth the investigation.
The more time I spend with God, the more I know that when I run to Him, when I return to Him, I will be met with rejoicing, not disdain. The more time I spend with God, the fewer doubts I have, not more. Peter and Mary Magdalene, upon hearing the Good News, were anticipating an encounter with Jesus. I pray that this Easter, upon hearing the Good News TODAY, that your goal is the same.