This devotional was originally published on April 17, 2017.
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in ithe Resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
— John 11:17-27
The craziest part of the entire Resurrection story to me is that nobody seemed to expect it. The disciples had gone and hidden out after the crucifixion. They feared that, if the authorities had done that to Jesus, they could very well be coming after his closest followers next. The disciples feared for their lives.
If you think about it, they should have been camping out at the tomb, waiting for the moment when their leader, the Messiah, would shake loose the shackles of death and strut out of the tomb, like an NBA player being introduced at the All-Star Game. What Peter, James, John, Matthew and the rest of the guys should have been doing is arguing over who got to be the hype man. You know, the guy that stands at the end of the tunnel when basketball players are introduced, high-fiving them and doing a little choreographed dance move with them. It would have been a great job for Bartholomew. After all, what did he do, anyway?
But we don’t see that scene in the Scripture, do we? There is not any arguing over hype man status. There is no camping out near the tomb. Instead, the disciples are in hiding, trying to stay out of the story, afraid for their lives.
And then, when Mary is in the tomb, and Jesus stands behind her and actually speaks to her, the Bible tells us that she actually thinks he is the gardener. Now, that is funny! Mary had already been to the empty tomb once and was upset when she left, proclaiming, “They have stolen the body of my Lord!” Does that sound like someone who was expecting an Easter morning? As one pastor, Andy Stanley, is fond of saying: Nobody expected no body!
But then, Jesus made himself known. He appeared to the disciples and countless others. They saw the nail scars in his hands and recognized the grace in his eyes. And things changed drastically.
These same men that had been in hiding after the crucifixion, scared for their lives, began to proclaim Jesus boldly as they made their way through the markets, streets, synagogues, and any other place they could find a crowd. They would not be deterred. They could not be stopped. They were threatened, imprisoned, beaten, mocked, ridiculed, and even put to death, yet they had a boldness that was inexplainable, except for by the Resurrection. When you see your savior brutally murdered and buried and, a few days later, you are having breakfast with him on the beach, it does something to you. These men went from being scared of their shadows to boldly sharing the gospel, with no fear of death, because of one thing: the Resurrection!
The Resurrection changed everything. The great news for us today, some 2,000 years later, is that the Resurrection still changes everything. It gives us confidence today that death doesn’t have to be feared, and if we don’t have to fear death, we don’t have to be afraid. Our redeemer is a grave robber! He’s a death-defying conqueror! He overcomes everything. And, with his power, we too can overcome whatever is causing us to be anxious today.
As you face today, revel in the Resurrection. Allow it to sink in that, if you are a believer, the same power that raised Christ from the dead now resides in you. There is no reason to fear!