SERVICES: SATURDAY 6PM | SUNDAY 9AM & 10:45AM. SERVICES ARE IN-PERSON AND LIVESTREAMED.

We Livestream at www.FaithFellowshipWeb.com/livestream, through the FFC App, and YouTube.

Puzzling and Powerful

John 20

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. [2] So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"

[3] So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. [4] Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. [5] He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. [6] Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, [7] as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. [8] Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. [9] (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

If John’s writing had ended with chapter 19 it would have been one of the most remarkable biographies ever written expounding the fascinating life of an amazing man whose life ended tragically.

But the story did not end when two kind Jewish leaders placed the body of Jesus into a grave. The lines of chapter 20 throb with quiet anticipation and excitement as a discovery is made that literally changed the world.

The actual discovery was quite simple. The Gospels all agree that it was the women who came early in the morning and first made the discovery. Only Mary Magdalene is mentioned by name here, but others are listed in Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, and Luke 24:10. Mary Magdalene, noticed that the stone had been rolled away from the door of the tomb and ran to warn the disciples while the others probably investigated further.

John shares a great sense of drama as he recalls the discovery on that morning. We know that the empty tomb testified to a thrilling truth. But that was not immediately apparent. Mary of Magdala thought that someone had stolen the body of Jesus.

Peter and John, whom we should by now recognize as “the other disciple”, came running to the tomb. In a lighthearted joy, John recalls that he, in fact, ran faster and beat Peter to the tomb. But in an act of respect or bafflement, he waited to allow Peter to be the first to actually investigate the interior of the tomb.

John gives eyewitness testimony to what he saw. It must have seemed a most bizarre sight. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. This made no sense at all. The preparation of a body for burial was not as elaborate as Egyptian mummification but did include significant wrapping with strips of linen. A grave robber would not spend time to unwrap a body! This would make a body most unsuitable to transport. What is more, the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.

Something very strange was going on but everyone near this event was still deeply puzzled. John reports that “he saw and believed” but in the next breath confesses that “they still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead”.

Resurrection is like that. Puzzling. The resurrection of Jesus was puzzling and powerful all at the same time. It took a while before those closest to Jesus began to figure out what had happened. The same is true when God begins to apply the power of this event in our own lives. When the Lord raises us from death to life it can be puzzling and powerful all at the same time.

I often will have a person come to me as pastor and share unusual events that have happened in their life. They tell me how they suddenly have been set free from things that have held them captive for years and that they seem only to thirst for God. I am asked what this means and I tell them that they have been “born again”, raised to new life by the power of God. Such powerful times can also be somewhat puzzling even as they a point of irrepressible joy.

The Apostle Paul knew this same power and it became the central cry of his heart. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11).

Do you know the power? Have you been born again? Have you tapped into the power of resurrection? The experience can be puzzling, but there is no truth in all creation like it.

Lord, I give thanks for both the puzzlement and the power of resurrection. More than anything, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. I want to know the freedom that comes only in being raised to new life. In Jesus’ name.