The Point of It All
This Sunday is Easter Sunday. The big enchilada. This is the day when everything changes. All that we are and believe as Christians begins on this day. It is our belief that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning that makes all of scripture make sense. It is this faith that motivates us to emulate Jesus, as feebly as we can. It is why we gather in faith communities and praise and worship. In short, it motivates ALL that we are and do. Without our faith in the Resurrection, the entire edifice of Christianity comes tumbling down.
The text for this Easter Sunday is John 20:1-18. This text teaches two primary lessons for us as we go forward with the faith in this event, the faith that saves. First, it tells us who Jesus is. Second, it tells us who first proclaims the Good News to the world.
The New Adam
The clear idea in this passage is that Jesus is the new Adam. Verse 15 says about Mary that she “supposing him to be the gardener”, does not immediately recognize Jesus. This is a clear reference to Adam as the caretaker of the Garden of Eden. This idea is buttressed by several Pauline passages. Rom 5:12-21 lays this out. In verse 18 Paul writes that “just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, one man’s righteousness leads to justification and life for all.” This is clearly a new thing that God is doing through his son Jesus, to redeem humanity.
Also, in 1Cor 15:22 Paul writes “for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ”. Jesus is here to repair what humanity broke. To give life from the death of unbelief and disobedience that took place with Adam. It is our faith that Jesus rose that sees us recovering from the first sin of Adam and being justified before God through that renewed faith. Jesus then is clearly identified as the Messiah, the one whom God promised to send to save his people, and in fact all who believe in him.
The next key takeaway from this text gives us an indication of how we are to respond to our faith in Jesus as Risen Lord. It is a woman who first discovers that Jesus is not in the tomb. It is Mary Magdalene who is the first on the scene, arriving before first light. The rest of the crew was in hiding. Although, to be fair, they were likely in legitimate fear for their lives. Mary then goes to get Peter and another disciple to have them come and investigate. True it was the other disciple who went in before Peter and saw the empty tomb and believed. Yet the next section tells what we need to know.
It was Mary who stayed at the tomb, in deep grief. She then has her encounter with the “gardener”. Once she recognizes who Jesus is she then goes to proclaim to the disciples that “I have seen the Lord” (verse 18). This is the Good News; that He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed, Hallelujah! Mary is the first preacher, the first one to proclaim the key tenet of our faith.
This is an obvious example of the extreme inclusivity of Jesus. Much more extreme than our 21st. century vantage point would have us think. To reveal yourself first to a woman in first century Palestine and to then have that woman go and deliver news of such momentous import was nothing short of extraordinary. It simply was not done in those times.
This points us toward following Jesus in being similarly radically inclusive. We believe in the proclamation, and whether we realized it or not, that proclamation was delivered by a woman. Since we believe in Jesus as Risen Lord, we seek to obey by living as he taught us. We can start with embracing his outlook of radical love and inclusion for all God’s children. Doing that is a way we can celebrate Easter every day.
Praise Be to God