The Easter story, always the Easter story. Every year, across the country and around the world, Christians are reading and celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and then rose again on Sunday morning. We know that as bad as Friday night was, Sunday was on its way, and Sunday has made its way! Our God makes a way where there is no way!
Ant behind the events of that first Easter morning, as ten great lessons for us as disciples of Jesus, as we’re being led and taught by the Holy Spirit.
Your end may be God’s beginning. John 20:1 The first day of the week Mary Magdalene arrived early, when it was still dark, to the sepulcher where Jesus was lain, and she saw the stone had been taken away from the opening.
Mary was in a time of darkness, no clear vision, and clearly upset, because God’s will was totally different than what she’d expected. She already was confused, and then, she discovered the stone of Jesus’ grave had been moved. In other words, her world was turning upside down, everything had changed and nothing was going the way she expected.
Lesson: Just because it seems like it’s the end, doesn’t MEAN it’s the end. It’s not over until God says it’s over. And I’m happy to say, God hasn’t said it’s over!
When things are going wrong, that’s when you need to seek fellowship.
John 20:2 Then she ran, and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we do not know where they have laid him.
When you’re least feel like being around people, that’s when you need to get into fellowship. Mary RAN to get with Peter and John. When things go wrong, when we’re disappointed, that’s when we feel like withdrawing. And, that’s when we can least afford to pull back.
Lesson: When you’re confused and disappointed, instead of pulling back, make yourself reach out, to make contact with other Believers. That’s what they are here for – to provide comfort and support.
Alone again. John 20:10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
They didn’t abandon Mary. It probably felt like they did, but they didn’t let her down. They were there to confirm that things were as she thought they were, and that there was no real danger, and then they went back home. That was the right thing to do.
Lesson: God may raise up people to confirm things in your life, but He doesn’t want you to depend on them. He wants you to depend on Him. Don’t expect others to be there for you day and night. You have to do your deepest growing by yourself.
Don’t be surprised if Jesus isn’t where you thought He was. Don’t let it make you bitter to find out you thought He was somewhere that He isn’t. He may not be in that relationship that you’ve just started. He might not be in that opportunity that you want so badly. He is not here: He is risen.
He may not be where you thought He was. Even nowadays, Jesus isn’t always where you think He is! You might think He’s one place, only to find out He is not there at all. Don’t let discouragement overwhelm you at this point. Jesus is risen. His thoughts are above our thoughts and His ways are above our ways.
Lesson: When Jesus isn’t where I thought He was, that’s my cue to find out where He is. He may seem like He is hiding Himself from me. But actually, He is encouraging me to seek Him with my whole heart, and to draw closer to Him.
Heaven is aware of your heartaches and disappointments. John 20:13 And they say unto her, Woman, why are you weeping? Heaven watches you and is involved with your life, even when it doesn’t feel like it. You can’t suffer a setback without catching Heaven’s attention. Setbacks are a part of the process of growing in life. And, they cause you to re-examine yourself, to check your spirit, to do a moral inventory.
Notice the question: “WHY are you weeping?” They didn’t tell her to stop crying. They didn’t say there was anything wrong with crying. There isn’t anything wrong with crying! This question was for Mary: “WHY” or what specifically about all this is making you so upset? Is it that nothing ever works for you, Mary? Is it that you’re tired of being alone and on your own? Or, that you came all the way out here for nothing? Lesson: Get to the root of what specifically is troubling you. Not just that you’re hurt or that something is bothering you. Take inventory, and learn what the real issue is. What specifically am I upset about?
Be able to state the problem clearly. “. . .She said unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, . . .” Mary didn’t say, “Well nothing’s going right! She limited it to EXACTLY what was troubling her about all this. “They” had done something, and now I don’t sense the presence of my Lord. Have you ever felt like that?
What about “them?” It’s easy to blame other people when you’re in a place of uncertainty. Easy to feel like other people are keeping the will of the Lord from coming to pass. People, whether it’s unbelievers or carnal, self-serving religious people cannot keep the plans and purposes of God from coming to pass. He WILL do what He has planned to do! He WILL do what He has planned to do! No matter WHAT! If He can’t use one person or group of people, He will use a different one. Lesson: God will not be hindered just because some people are totally uncooperative. God’s plans and purposes in your life are MUCH, much bigger than the petty offenses and problems that the people around you are causing.
Not only is it a “they” problem, it is an “I” problem. “. . . and I know not where they have laid him.” That’s what is so frustrating about it. “I don’t know what to do.” That’s a key to real growth. They need to change. I need to change. I can’t change their moving Him, but maybe I can change my not knowing. I want to change “them.” I need to change me. Face it, they aren’t going to change! Lesson: “It’s easier to put on slippers than it is to carpet the whole earth.”
Now Jesus shows up! John 20:14 And when she had said these things, she turned around, and saw Jesus standing, and did not realize it was Jesus. Jesus said unto her, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking? When does Jesus show up in a person’s time of crisis? When the person has gone through this process. Taking action, seeking fellowship, getting alone, clarifying the problem, and being ready to change yourself. When we are ready, He shows up. There is an old proverb that says, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Lesson: Go through the process, and then He shows up. “His presence does not depend on my on my recognition of it.”
Restoration of faith, fellowship and position. John 20:16 Jesus said to her, Mary. She turned and said unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Mary got the word that she needed: She had not been forgotten by Jesus. She hadn’t been forgotten by Jesus and you haven’t been forgotten by Jesus. He called her by name. How long was He there? Probably the whole time – but He was just out of sight. Even in our times of frustration, fear, doubt, loneliness, Jesus is here. Do you suppose He didn’t hear her questions? Do you imagine that He doesn’t hear yours? Do you think He didn’t hear her cry and see her tears? I tell you, Jesus hears your cry and sees your tears! Lesson: He is not far off, even when I don’t sense His presence. When I am ready, He will make His presence and his plan clear. There is nothing better than the clear sensing of the presence and comfort of the Risen Lord Jesus!