The Resurrection of Jesus
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. -Mark 16:1-8 (NRSV)
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. -Mark 16:9-11 (NRSV)
At Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples didn’t know how the story would end. They didn’t have a Biblical account in which to see the bigger picture. They couldn’t flip to the end of the book and read the closing chapters to see what would happen at the end. They were left waiting. Wondering. Mourning. Fearing. Hoping.
In Mark’s account, the angel commissions the women witnesses at the empty tomb to go tell the other disciples. Can you imagine the disciples’ reaction when they heard that Jesus—their friend and teacher—had returned, that He was indeed alive? What a day of rejoicing that must have been!
Mary and the disciples were the first to celebrate Easter. Two thousand years later, we read through the narrative of the last supper, the crucifixion, and Sunday’s resurrection. We know how the story ends, and we continue to rejoice in the victory over death followed by the post-resurrection appearances recorded in the Gospel accounts.
What does Easter mean to you? I encourage you to take time to read all four Gospel accounts and reflect on the meaning of Easter for you and your Christian witness in 2023.
For me, Easter is a reminder we serve a risen Savior. God is still in the business of moving and removing big stones and boulders that block our progress. Easter is confirmation that love wins over hate and life over death.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow with joy. I can embrace today with purpose. I can anticipate a future filled with hope. Easter is a declaration there is victory in Jesus!
Be encouraged because He is risen, indeed!
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church