“Father, the time has come, Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” John 17:1 NIV
I’ve lost track of how many funerals I officiated over the years. You might say, “It comes with the territory.” The rituals are basically the same in all parts of our nation. Christian burial is a solemn experience. I’ve only visited my dad’s grave once since he died. He’s buried near his mother and father. They are buried near their mothers and fathers. Their lichen covered headstones reveal very little about their lives. Their full names along with their birth and death dates are etched in stone. Some of my relatives place flowers or wreaths on the headstones to commemorate special occasions like Memorial Day, birthdays and holidays.
To remember is to honor.
Mary Magdalene must’ve been so brave. She got up before the sunrise to visit the place where Jesus was buried. Getting up early before the sunrise to pray had been Jesus’ practice during his ministry. I wonder if that’s why she went so early. Maybe it was just to be alone with him. When she arrived while it was still dark, the stone had been rolled away. I cannot even imagine what I would think if I went to visit my dad’s grave only to see it disturbed in any way. Her first thought was to report what she saw to Simon Peter and the other disciple-the one Jesus loved. All three mustered their courage and ran to the tomb.
Consider how each of them approached the tomb.
1. The disciple ran faster than Simon Peter and arrived at the tomb first. He bent over, looked in and considered the evidence. He saw and believed.
2. Simon Peter was behind him. He arrived and went in. He considered the evidence.
3. Mary stood outside crying.
How do we approach the tomb of Jesus?
1. There are people who only need to see the evidence to believe.
2. Others need to see the evidence and ponder a while before they believe.
3. Still others emotionally engage their heart which confuses and confounds those who make decisions with their head or gut.
To believe is only the first step.
Mary had been present through it all. She and two disciples out of twelve showed up. There were other disciples who didn’t or maybe couldn’t show up. I noticed. The disciples went back. But, Mary stayed. Mary spoke with angels. She engaged with a one on one conversation with the risen Lord. She heard Jesus say her name. Of course she’s going to want to hold on! “Instead,” Jesus says, “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
What I choose to remember this year is Mary’s heart. The human heart has always been God’s focus. Many would come to believe. Few would truly be transformed.
Transformation is my Easter hope for you this year. I pray for boldness and courage for you. Imagine the story your family and friends could tell when they visit the place where you are buried. Instead of your birth and death dates, what if the words 'truly transformed' were etched in stone? What changes need to take place in your life to fulfill that proclamation? Belief is the first step. Transformation is a life-long journey and commitment. So,stay. Speak with angels. Have a one on one conversation with Jesus. Don’t hold on too tightly. Jesus has already told you to, “go and tell.”
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me. I am sending you.” John 20:21 NIV