The Bible says in John 19:38-42, "And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him permission. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, who at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it with linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no one had yet been buried. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews preparation day; for the sepulchre was near at hand."
Though Jesus owned nothing of this worldís goods, He was given the burial of a rich man. Those who do own this worldís goods can either waste them on the excesses of their own unbridled desires, or they can find ways of using them for the glory of God. Jesus was put to death with the poor, but buried with the rich. Perhaps one reason for this was to show that He loves everyone in the world and that He died for everyone in the world: both rich and poor.
Other than the fact that Jesus received the burial of a rich man, there was nothing really out of the ordinary about His burial. His lifeless body was obviously very carefully and respectfully embalmed and then laid in the tomb in the garden. After the burial as the night grew near, it must have been a very dark time in the hearts of the disciples of Jesus. But when things seem most dark for the children of God, there is always help on the way. The fact of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, should always be a reminder to believers that when things look the darkest, donít despair. God will fix things and make it all right, because with God all things are possible.
Concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the Bible says in John 20:1-10, "The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runs and comes to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, they have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then comes Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and sees the linen clothes lie, And the napkin that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, who came first to the sepulchre, and he saw and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home."
It is important to note that Mary Magdalene was the first to visit the gravesite of Jesus. It was said of Mary Magdalene that out of her were cast seven devils. We are not told the exact details of the sins that she committed from which she was totally and completely forgiven. Sometimes itís better not to know the horrible details of someoneís past sins. Itís enough to say that they did things that they ought not to have done or to say; "out of them were cast seven devils," and then to drop the subject. If God has forgotten our sins, then we should forget each otherís also. Donít dwell on the negative of what used to be, but rather think about and talk about the positive of what now is by the grace of God. Sometimes those who were once the worst of sinners make the best of saints, because those who are forgiven much, the same love much. That certainly appears to be the case with Mary Magdalene. I wonder if itís your case too.
After Peter and John ran away to their home, Mary Magdalene was again alone at the tomb of Jesus. It was not enough that they had crucified her Lord, but now it appeared to her that they had desecrated his grave also. The Bible says in John 20:11-14 "But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And saw two angels in white sitting, the one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain, And they said unto her, Woman, why are you weeping? She said unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, but knew not that it was Jesus."
The Bible says, "Seek and you shall find." And it says, "Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you." Mary thought that she was seeking the dead body of Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, she found the living God. Jesus was not dead. When Jesus died upon the cross, His death took place when His spirit left His physical body. His body was a dead body, but He did not die when His Spirit left the body, just as none of us will die when our spirits leave our bodies at the time of our death. Only our bodies will die, but we will continue to live to be judged by God and then to spend eternity in heaven or in hell. In order to prove to His disciples that He was not dead, Jesus reentered His body and His body came to life again. The body of Christ did not go into corruption as bodies usually do. It did not return to dust. It became a heavenly body, a resurrected body, without the limitations that our physical bodies now have. It will not get sick, it will not grow old, and it will never die. Remember when Jesus said to Martha before He raised Lazarus from the dead, "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die."
When Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb, the Bible says that "she knew not that it was Jesus." Jesus has promised to always be with those who believe in Him. He said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." One of the attributes of God is that He is everywhere present. He is omnipresent. There is no place on the earth where you can go that God is not already there. There is no mountain, no forest, no city, no building, no garden where God is not already there. He is with you now. The question is; are you aware of His presence or not? If you believe in God, then you can believe that He is present with you, because God is the Great Everywhere Present One. As often as possible, return to the thought that Christ is where you are whether you are at home or at work or anywhere else. Dedicate everything that you do to Christ, because he is there, listening and watching and ready to help.
Mary was understandably troubled and saddened and in distress. What changed things for her and what fixed things for her was the awareness that Christ was with her. He was not dead, and He was not far away. Jesus was right there with her, and everything was going to be o.k.
The Bible says in John 20:15-18, "Jesus said unto her, Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you seeking? She, supposing him to be the gardener, said unto him, Sir, if you have taken him from here, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus said unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and said unto him, Rabboni, which is to say, Master. Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her."
Jesus revealed himself after the resurrection to a woman before He did to any man. The Jewish society of 2,000 years ago was very much a male dominated society, but Jesus treated men and women equally, and He made it clear that women were just as important and just as accepted in the service of God as men. Jesus told Mary to go tell the other disciples that He was risen from the dead, and He called them His brothers. There is a tremendous acceptance and equality given to those who are the followers of God. In the world there is often a distasteful hierarchy and snobbishness in the affairs of humans, but not in the true service of God. If you are on Godís team, then all the other servants of God are your fellow-workers, and so is God Himself. "We are laborers together with God:" male and female, rich and poor.
In John 20:19-23 the Bible says, "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive you the Holy Spirit. Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained."
Even though Jesus now had a perfect, resurrected body; He still had the scars of the crucifixion. When Jesus said to the disciples, "Peace be unto you," He then showed them His hands and His side. Seeing the hands and the side of Jesus should have helped the disciples to be at peace, and remembering His hands and His side should help us to be at peace also. The scars in the hands and the side of Jesus remind us that our sins are forgiven. They remind us that God loves us and He proved it by sending Jesus to die for us. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." The scars that are in the hands and the side of Jesus remind us that God is going to take care of us, because if He already did the greatest thing to take care of the problem of our sins, then He will most certainly do everything else that needs to be done to take care of us. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with Him freely give us all things?" If you are troubled about something and do not have the peace that you should have, then think about the scars in the hands and the side of Jesus and what it all means concerning the great love of God for you, and then most certainly you will have peace.
Notice that itís Jesus who alone can give the peace that we all need. He said twice to the disciples in this passage, "My peace I give unto you." Peace, peace of mind and peace of heart, is one of the important things of life that money cannot buy; but it can be found in the person of Jesus. If you are troubled by a sinful past, or worried by what the future may bring, or unsure about your eternal destiny; then you can find peace and comfort in what Jesus has done for you. Itís a kind of peace that you cannot find anywhere else: only through Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace.
Jesus said to the disciples, "As the Father has sent me, so send I you." There is an old gospel hymn that takes those words and makes them the central theme of the song; and the song is entitled, ĎSo Send I You.í But one thing about the hymn that I do not prefer is the fact that it tends to bring up the things that Jesus suffered or endured as being similarities to what we will experience. But if we look at the immediate context very carefully, we will see that Jesus was not talking about suffering or persecution or loss when He said to the disciples, "As the Father has sent me, so send I you." Jesus was talking about victory, and strength, and enablement. He was telling the disciples that they had similar resources and authority to do the work of God. God has not asked us to do His work and then left us to our own devices. God has not given us a commission and then left us without the power to fulfill that commission. After Jesus told the disciples, "As the Father has sent me, even so send I you," then Jesus said to them in John 20:22, "Receive you the Holy Spirit." God has given to us His Spirit. Thatís the secret source of power. When Jesus emptied Himself of His divine prerogatives, on the earth He lived as a man filled and led by the Holy Spirit of God. Thatís how He did it. Thatís how He fulfilled the will of God for Himself. He did not leave us comfortless and He did not leave us powerless. Jesus has given us the same resource that He had. If we surrender to and follow the leading of the Spirit of God, He will lead us to do the will of God and to speak for God to the others on the earth who do not yet believe. We will have a work that is similar to the one that Jesus had, and we will have the same spirit to guide us in that work. The central theme of our message will be the same as that of the message of Christ. Itís the message of the forgiveness of sins that are past by the love of God and because of the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus said to the crippled man who was brought to Him in faith, "Your sins be forgiven you." Jesus said to the woman who was taken in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." Jesus said to the Pharisees, "The Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins." And now Jesus tells the disciples that they have the same authority to take the message of the forgiveness of sins to the lost souls of the world. Those who believe in Jesus and who themselves have tasted of forgiveness, have all the authority of God to declare to people, ĎIf you believe in Jesus you will be forgiven of all your sins no matter how horrible they have been. But if you do not believe in Jesus while there is time for you, you will be judged and condemned by your own words and your own actions at the judgment.í The reason that we have the authority to say such things is because Jesus said, "Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained."
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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