Early Sunday morning before the sun had risen, Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb. When she arrived she was shocked to find the stone that the blocked the entrance had been taken away. I can imagine her dismay. She was mourning Jesus. She was obviously deeply grieved. In her anguish, Mary ran to Peter and John who were also on their way to the tomb. She met them with the news, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (Verse 2). The two men began running to the tomb, although John reached it first, he waited outside as Peter entered. Verses 6-9 read,
“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.”
They believed Mary, that someone had moved His body. They still didn’t understand what Jesus had told them about resurrecting. They must have felt more forlorn at that moment and they went back to their homes wondering who had moved Jesus’ body and why. What conspiracy theories must have filled them with fear?
Mary went back to the tomb and was crying. When she arrived she saw two angels sitting on the shelf where Jesus’ body had been, one at the feet and one at the head. This is the only instance I can think of where a person was not afraid at the sight of angels. They were seated and she was in the middle of deep grief so maybe she didn’t identify them as angels. Deep emotion can make us blind to circumstances around us. Maybe they didn’t appear as the fierce and mighty creatures they normally do. Perhaps they had put on a human appearance. Instead of having to tell her not to be afraid, they asked her why she was crying. She answered, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” (Verse 13). Then she turned around and Jesus was standing there, but she didn’t recognize Him. Not only because of her heartache but possibly because Jesus had veiled Himself from her the way He would later with others. Verses 15-18 read,
“Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”
Mary was looking for a dead man, but Jesus came to her and showed He is alive. Jesus didn’t allow Mary to stand there clinging to Him, not moving forward. He told her to go tell His brothers He was ascending to His Father and our Father, His God and our God. For the first time, He referred to the disciples as His brothers. His death had paid the price for the sins of believers and His resurrection had made us sons of God, our God. The pronoun used to distinguish God is ídios. According to Strong’s is means uniquely one's own and is stronger than the simple possessive pronoun. It means private and personal. What an amazing way to describe God Almighty. It is such an intimate description of God as our Father.
Relationships had changed now, because Jesus had changed them. No longer is God the Father, but your Father. No longer is He God, but your God. Because Jesus died on the cross and paid the price of death required for sins and rose from the dead, God can be your Father and you can be His child. Because Jesus sacrificed Himself and overcame death, you can belong to God, and He to you in a very intimate and personal way.
Later, in the evening the disciples were gathered in a locked room because of fear, when Jesus appeared to them. Now Mary had told them what had happened but what she said was impossible and even if they wanted to believe her, they still didn’t really accept it. Verses 19-23 describe the scene.
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
When you are confronted by the truth as were Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John do you believe it? They needed confirmation that He was not in the tomb. When they saw it, they still didn’t understand the depth of what they saw. It was Jesus who had to tell them. It was Jesus who had to reveal Himself to them. And the first thing He did was send them to tell others the good news of peace, peace with God, peace of heart, soul, and mind. He didn’t say, ‘Stay here and revel in this relationship’ or ‘keep this awesomeness to yourself and enjoy me privately.’ He said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” He gave the disciples the Holy Spirit so that they would be able to tell people, not as men, but as sons of God. It is only God who can save, who can give the words, the wisdom, and the faith to believe Him.
When Jesus gave the disciples the Holy Spirit, He also gave them His desire and nature of mercy. He told them to forgive freely. If they withheld mercy from those in need, then mercy would be denied to them. Peace with God requires forgiveness. We have no right not to forgive others when God has forgiven us so much. It is not us who saves, it is God. It is not us who has the right to be merciful or not be merciful. God is rich in mercy. We have His Spirit, therefore we can be rich in mercy too.