Day 78: Death Could Not Hold Him
Read: John 20:1-18
Nothing colors human experience like death. I know, that sounds heavy, but think about it. How much of your life do you think you’ve spent worrying about death? The looming shape of death tints nearly every thought and action we make, and today especially we’re taught to force it out of our thoughts with “positive mental attitudes” and “good vibes”. Maybe we try to put a good spin on death, talking about the “circle of life” and so on, but it doesn’t make death any less painful. The Bible teaches that death entered into the world through sin, and that (Rom. 5:12). Although we can never really wrap our heads around death—even with the most clever and complex metaphors—we know through our brushes with death that it is a foreign disease, a corruption of designed reality.
In today’s passage, we find the disciples in the shadow of death. The man they had given the last three years of their lives to was lying dead in a tomb, and with him all their hopes for the Kingdom that he had promised. In a flash of hope mixed with fear, Peter and John learned that Jesus’ body was gone. As they reached the tomb, they were shocked to find it empty, but still they didn’t know what to make of it. They witnessed the empty tomb and turned around to go home, a home that we will later see is in lock-down, presumably in fear of being discovered by Jesus’ enemies. Mary visited the tomb again and wept. To all of them, death could only breed death.
And isn’t this so often the story of our lives? Much of the Christian life involves dying. Following Christ means that we must die to ourselves, our dreams, our desires. Relationships will die, plans will perish, people we love deeply will suffer and pass on. Entropy seems to be the language that our perishing world is groaning.
And yet Jesus enters into this groaning with a whisper of hope. “Why are you weeping?”, he asked Mary, “Whom are you seeking?” (John 20:15). Mary like us was still wrapped up in the pain of loss; it blinded her to the One standing in front of her. “Sir, did you take him away?” And then, so gently, Jesus said her name. And at once she could see.
The truth is that death tends to send us gasping . We like Mary are looking for our old corpses, these empty things we’ve put our hope in. We, like the disciples, often go home disappointed and lock ourselves in our rooms—and all the while Jesus stands in front of us. He does not come with condemnation on his lips, but with our names, to remind us who we are in Him. Christ’s death does not end in death, but has been given a new life. Hallelujah.
Christ’s new life wasn’t just another of His miracles, but it is reflected in our new lives as Christ followers. The Holy Spirit lives in those who believe in Jesus, and energizes us to live for Him (Phil. 2:13). Take some time meditating on this new reality that comes through faith in Jesus. Ask God what He would have you do today, and then do it, trusting fully on the power of His life to work through you.
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