Jesus had come to the end of his earthly ministry. The Devil thought he had triumphed; the Jews had jubilated, exuding and displaying great happiness, rejoicing and partying over the mutilation of the man that claimed to be God sent: the one who called himself the Christ and Saviour of the world. The Jews preferred and favoured the thief in comparison to Jesus. We would read later in the scriptures that, if the Prince of this world had known, he wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of Glory.
“You Bethlehem, you are the smallest town amongst the other towns, but out of you will come a ruler that would rescue and save my people”. “For unto us a child has come, to us a son is given; the government has been placed in his hands; and he has been named Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, The everlasting Father and The Prince of Peace”. These were two prophecies known to the Jews, but when the actual fulfilment of the prophecy came in Jesus, they refused Him. Jesus had come to his own people, but they refused Him.
They dragged him, slapped him, and made him carry his own cross like Isaac carried the wood for his father Abraham to the place of sacrifice. Little did they know that they were only resources/tools in the hands of Almighty God in fulfilment of the above prophecies. They were so passionate about putting this said man out of their synagogue because they believed he had blasphemed beyond redemption and all they felt he deserved was to be killed the way common thieves were killed in those days.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter, He was picked up and led by all and sundry through to Gethsemane and to Pilate. Then he was led through to Golgotha where he was slaughtered being nailed to the cross where he died in absolute pain and agony. According to the tradition of the day, ‘cursed is every man that hangs on the tree’. When they believed or judged anyone to be a blasphemer, that person was not good enough to live (ANATHEMA it’s called). He cried out in deep anguish and discomfort as he went through the pangs of death, ‘my Father, my Father why have you forsaken me?’ ‘It is finished’..
Unknown to the Jews, he had been speaking to His disciples about how He would be killed, buried and on the third day, be raised from the dead and then ascend back to where He came from (Heaven: the domain of the almighty and everlasting God). One of such days was when he began to explain to them how he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests and scribes; he would be killed and on the third day be raised from the death. Guess what? Peter began to rebuke him, because he couldn’t understand the plan and purpose of God regarding humanity.
‘Destroy this temple today and I will raise it again in three days’, was one of the statements made by Jesus very early in His ministry days and the Pharisees and Sadducees heard him. They laughed at him thinking he was referring to the already built temple where the people worshipped. The building took them so many years to erect, so they wondered how somebody could say that he can raise the same building in three days if it was destroyed. They never knew he spoke about the temple of His body: how they would kill him and on the third day He would be raised from the dead.
Now, Jesus is dead and we want to focus on what happened going forward. He had told his disciples that on the third day, he would be raised from the dead. One would have thought that, as a follow up, they would all (the remaining eleven disciples) be looking forward to the promise their Lord made to them. Instead, they felt it was just another episode that had ended and so went back to their business of fishing, at least to make ends meet.
On the first day of the week, which marked the third day, Mary Magdalene went to the graveside with the intention of more mourning only to find out on getting there, that the stone had been moved and taken away. She ran to Peter to report that the stone had been rolled off the grave and their master had been taken away. They thought that most probably, someone unknown to them took the body away. Mary Magdalene met with Peter and the other disciple described as the one whom the Lord loved, presumably John; making three of them.
Immediately, they both began to run towards the sepulchre leaving Mary Magdalene behind. Let us look at what their effort would fetch them. They began to run; obviously Mary was no match for them. The contest for who gets to the graveside first was between Peter and the other disciple. The other disciple out-ran Peter, arriving first at the sepulchre.
What did they see?
When the other disciple got there, he stooped down, looked into the sepulchre and all he saw were the linen clothes. He didn’t go into the sepulchre. He went away with the message of the linen clothes. Teaching and preaching about the linen clothes would have brought out so many arguments, debates and questions. The linen clothes were not enough proof that Christ was raised from the dead. One could have asked ‘what if he was taken away by the detractors, what if the body was stolen away?’ Out of these many questions, the hearers could have come to a conclusion that something must have happened to the body.
The great Simon Peter got there and decided to go into the sepulchre, a step further than the other disciple. Not only did Peter see the linen clothes, he also saw the napkin that was used to wrap his master’s head wrapped in a place by itself. Peter would have ended up with a message of the linen clothes and the napkin. This would have also been debatable and questionable because no one had any proof that the body was not removed by the critics.
When the other disciple saw that Peter had entered into the sepulchre, he entered as well and the bible says that he believed. Believed what? The linen clothes and the napkin wrapped separately in a place. I know the end of the story because I have read it, but the message of the linen clothes and the napkin would not have been enough to convince anyone about the resurrection from the dead.
Peter and the other disciple went back to their homes because what they saw was not enough proof that the Lord had been raised from the dead. The death was not enough, the shed blood was not enough, and the burial was not enough. Something more has got to happen in addition to the shed blood, his death and burial with proof, so that the message stops being debatable or arguable.
Finally, Mary Magdalene arrived at the sepulchre. She did not go into the sepulchre as did Peter and the other disciple, she stood outside weeping. As she wept she stooped down at the sepulchre and saw two angels, one standing at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus was laid. The angels spoke to her (Peter and the other disciple didn’t get that far, did they?). She told them that her Lord had been taken away and wondered where they took Him to.
She then turned backwards and guess what she saw? She saw Jesus standing but she wasn’t expecting that it would be Jesus. She thought it was one of the gardeners. Jesus asked her what she was looking for and she answered “Sir, if you have taken him away from here, say where you have put Him and I will take Him away”. Jesus called her and immediately she knew it was Jesus that spoke with her.
She had the complete message of the Gospel compared to Peter and the other disciple. Her message was not debatable, arguable or questionable. She was able to tell the other disciples that the Lord had risen from the dead.
The message of the Gospel did not stop when Jesus shed his blood. It did not stop when he died; the message did not stop when he was buried. The message would be complete when Jesus was raised from the dead.
Apostle Paul completed this message when he said if Christ was not raised from the dead, he would be of all men most miserable. The good news is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who hailed from Nazareth.
Preach the Gospel.