Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 16, 2017

His rising … into the darkness

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark…

I believe I’ll never experience Easter morning the same way again … ever.  At 1:11 in the afternoon on Saturday, April 15th, my entire mindset on Easter morning shifted.  This is my second fundamental shift in as many days.  God is so good.

Yesterday, I sat down to write about Resurrection and I prayed.  “Father, help me see Jesus more truly and completely in writing today.  Please show me as I read.”  Mark chapter 16 was originally planned as our reading for today.  We have been reading in the book of Mark all week.  Chapter 16 is all about the Resurrection.  So, of course, Mark chapter 16 should be our reading for Sunday.

Mary Magdalene’s name is mentioned first as chapter 16 begins.  She is at the head of the list Mark notes of the women who went shopping on Saturday evening for the spices they would need to anoint Jesus’ body properly the next morning.  This whole presumption is interesting to me.  Perhaps, in a future year, I will investigate this more fully.  I understand that Jesus’ body was hastily prepared for burial the day before because sundown was quickly approaching, and there was an urgency to burying Him before the Sabbath.  But did the women just expect they would walk up to or into the tomb and be allowed access to Jesus’ body?  Perhaps it was simply their deep love for Jesus, or maybe they just didn’t know what to do in their grief and decided to do the thing they knew.  I believe we can all relate to that in our own experience of grief?

In reading further, Mary Magdalene is mentioned again … as the first person Jesus appears to after rising from the dead.  Isn’t that just like Jesus, to appear first to a former prostitute and give her the honor of being the first to tell others He is Risen?!  My thoughts and heart began to settle on this interaction between Mary Magdalene and Jesus.  But there was a problem.  Mark chapter 16 says nothing about the details or nature of their meeting.   In fact, it simply says He appeared to her first, she went and told the disciples, and they didn’t believe her.  So, I sought other references to the story, going first to the gospel of John.  John’s gospel tells the story beautifully.  And as I begin reading, I remember writing about this before.  I remember being struck by the moment Mary hears Jesus say her name.

Mary encounters a man after turning to leave Jesus’ tomb.  She is overcome with grief.  She doesn’t recognize the man, but thinks he is the gardener.  The man asks her why she’s crying.  She questions Him in return, and then … He calls out her name.  Instantly, she knows it’s Jesus!  Something about His voice.  His voice.  Oh, that’s it!  His voice.

Yet, God had another reason for sending me to John’s account of Resurrection day.  And it was not to land on the story of Mary or to expound on the deep significance and application of “His voice.”  For a reason I do not recall right now, I returned to the beginning of the chapter.  I believe I was trying to confirm timing for an opening paragraph that was going to read something like one I wrote back in 2014 …

The bright, brilliant Light has broken through the darkness on Resurrection morning, and He is Risen, as He said!

But as I began reading, I stopped dead in my tracks after verse one.  Wait … did I just read that right?!

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

No way!  While it was still dark?!  Mary arrived at the tomb and found the stone had been rolled away while it was still dark?!  In all the years I have been writing about Resurrection morning, the hope and promise (and resurrection itself) were all associated with the breaking of the dawn.  The bright, brilliant Light shows up and ends the darkness.  But that’s not what happened, and that’s not what happens in our own lives.  In so many ways, our lives echo the truth of “while it was still dark.”  At the moment of genuine belief, faith and salvation, the light does not forever displace the darkness.  There are many reading today who persist in faith, yet are deeply entrenched in a season of darkness.  They are waiting and praying for the brilliant light to break, or they have experienced the temporal victory of darkness — the times when their prayers for healing were answered on the other side of eternity, not in the here and now.  If Jesus’ resurrection waited until after sunrise; if His power over sin and death in this life were only true after dawn had broken, then what do we do when ours hasn’t?  What do we do when the clouds in our season of suffering obscure the sunrise that we know happened, but that we can’t see?

I LOVE the discovery (after so many years of reading the story) that Mary found the stone rolled away while it was still dark.  I LOVE the true knowing that just happened as I read and experienced verse one.  I SO see Jesus walking out of the tomb into the darkness that will hold sway over this world until He visits it again.  I see the intention.  I see Him having a conversation with the darkness.  I see Him having a conversation with mine.

Jesus broke the power of sin and death.  And just as He does not manipulate our choices, He has not forever displaced the darkness with light … yet.  If, this morning, you woke again to your own darkness; if, today, you do not see the sunrise that everyone around you seems to see … know this!  Jesus rose again into the darkness.  He has forever conquered it, but he rose again into it.

Jesus did not wait for dawn to break.  You can trust Him when yours hasn’t broken yet either.  Hold on.  Take Heart.  Trust.  Cast your worries, burdens, failings, false hopes, resolve, promises to never do that again and anger on Him.  And in the casting, find that it is all part of the “stuff” He took to the cross and paid for a couple of days ago … and forever conquered in walking out of the tomb.  I pray you experience the bright, brilliant Light today.  I pray that you feel the warmth of the Son on your face.  But even if you don’t … He is Risen!


Responses

  1. Enjoyable interesting thought, the relationship of darkness and light.

    “The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.” Isaiah 9:2

    “For God, who said, Light shall shine out of darkness, is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

    “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.” Ephesians 5:8

    “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” Matthew 10:27

    Father, Jesus, Spirit – thank You for meeting us in darkness!


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