We had just moved to Orlando, Florida with our three boys to become the pastors for the great Salvation Army Corps there, and things were off to a great start. All of a sudden, I found myself having problems with my eyes. If I had to read or focus for a while, my eyes would get tired or blurry. I had never had problems with my eyes before. I knew I had to see someone.
Remarkably, I don’t think I had ever been to an eye doctor before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Thinking the doctor would give me some extensive exam with his equipment, I was surprised when his first question was “How old are you?” I responded a little sheepishly that I was 43. His next statement was even funnier: “Well, what took you so long?” Apparently, I had beaten the odds, as most adults seem to have some trouble with their eyes by the time they are 40. My time had come, and it wasn’t just glasses for me, it was bifocals. Woe is me; I had officially become an old man with the hardware to prove it!
Events that Sunday morning in Jerusalem, three days after the crucifixion, caused many people to question their eyesight, too. The disciples had a vision of the expected Messiah who would free the nation of Israel from Roman tyranny. He would take up the throne of King David again and restore Israel to its greatness. What a team to be on! Everything had been great; people were being healed, the dead raised, the poor were hearing words of hope, and people were repenting and turning back to God. Jesus had to be “The One.” Or was he?
Suddenly, their vision was blurred, if not darkened completely. Their hopes and dreams were dashed. Jesus was dead – not just dead, but crucified as a criminal. The disciples were fugitives, looking over their shoulders hoping not to be next. The Brave New World of the Messiah was gone. Or was it?
Today, let’s put ourselves in the place of Mary Magdalene in the Easter story. Let’s see with Resurrection Eyes and ask what difference the Resurrection makes for us as followers of Christ today.
Mary Magdalene is an interesting character. Luke 8:2 says she was a part of the traveling party with the disciples. With the other women, she provided support to the mission. Luke reveals that Jesus had cast out seven demons from her. Saved from that dark past, she had much to be grateful for. She stood with Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the cross. And she was first one up that Sunday morning to pay homage to her Lord. But, it was a sorrowful day when she came to finish the required rituals of burial.
Have you ever been there? Sad. Depressed. Disappointed. In despair. Not knowing what to do next. That was Mary Magdalene on that first day of the week. Her hope was gone. The one she had believed in, trusted, followed and sacrificed for was dead. At least she could go to the tomb to anoint the body. But just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, someone had removed the stone from the tomb and stolen the body!
She brought the news to Peter and John who hurried to investigate, finding just the linen cloths lying in place where the body had been. Mary stayed while the men returned home confused. Her tears blurred her sight as a man she assumed was the gardener asked her why she was crying. Begging for him to tell her where they had taken the body, a familiar voice calling her name brought her back to reality.
It was Him. Jesus was alive. Mary’s immediate response was joy and worship. Gone was the despair. All was not lost. Jesus had conquered sin and death and He was going home to His Heavenly Father to prepare a place for us. Now, this Good News had to be shared.
Things look different through Resurrection Eyes. The Cross without the Resurrection looks pretty bleak and hopeless. It appears that Satan has won, and we are another tasty morsel for him to devour. But the Cross with the Resurrection spells victory and Good News. Jesus became sin for us so that we might take on his righteousness through God’s grace. His substitutionary death on the cross pays the penalty for our sin. We die with him to our sins and are raised with him to hope and eternal life.
When you are tried and tested, like Mary Magdalene, decide to go to the tomb. See and remember He is not there; He is risen and claim victory over the attacks of Satan!