The resurrection of Jesus is the key principle that underlies Christianity. It is the one thing that sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world.
As has been said many times, in every other religion you can visit the tombs of the founders of the religion, but there is no tomb to visit Christ because He is risen. The basis of Christianity is that we are offered life and freedom through the resurrection of The Lord.
So central is resurrection to Christianity that if there were no resurrection there would be no Christianity. Without the resurrection of The Lord there is no religion for it is through the resurrection of Jesus that we hold our faith and receive the promises of life and freedom in Jesus Christ.
There are some very interesting things that we can see in the events of the resurrection as they unfolded in these scriptures.
Faith is the key. Faith in Jesus Christ and in his resurrection is always the key to life in The Lord. But what we see in the first people to discover Jesus had risen was a lack of faith.
Mary Magdalene first came to the tomb and discovered Jesus gone. She went and told the disciples, Peter and John, who ran to the tomb and going in discovered the burial cloths folded up and the body missing.
Now despite the many times that Jesus had told the disciples that he would arise on the third day, they still did not believe. Their faith was weak for they could not imagine such a thing to be possible even though The Lord had said it would be so. As the scripture says, they did not yet understand the truth of what He had said and that He would arise. Instead they thought the body had been taken away.
Jesus Appears to Mary
The disciples left the tomb but Mary remained and stood outside weeping and wondering what had happened. Looking into the tomb she saw two angels dressed in white who spoke to her. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” (Vs. 13)
When she turned around she saw Jesus standing there and He asked her the same question. She did not recognise him and believing Him to be the gardener asked where Jesus’ body had been taken. She intended to go and take the body so she could properly prepare it for burial.
Jesus said one word to her, “Mary.” Then she recognised Him and worshiped Him. He told her not to cling to Him for He had not yet ascended to the Father, but then He told her to go and tell the disciples that He had risen from the dead.
The Message of the Resurrection
Now this is an interesting point. One of the key things the disciples were to do, and we also today need to do, is to bear witness to the resurrection. When the disciples came together to appoint someone to replace Judas Iscariot and to take his place in the ministry they made this point in Acts 1:21-22.
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us-one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
One of the key messages the disciples of The Lord were required to preach was the message of the resurrection and to bear witness to Jesus being raised from the dead.
Now what is interesting about the events in the garden immediately after Jesus arose, is that the first person appointed to preach the ministry of the resurrection, this core and foundational teaching of Christianity, was a woman…Mary Magdalene. Jesus instructed her to go to the disciples and minister to them saying that He had risen. Note what He said and her response in verses 17-18.
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”-and that he had said these things to her.
But did the disciples believe her? No they did not. We see what happened over in the version of these events in Mark 16:9-14.
9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.
10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.
13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.
Jesus had appeared first to Mary and then to several others. All of these testified to the resurrection, but the disciples did not believe them.
Did Jesus just ignore this or say it was OK? No way! He rebuked the disciples and He upbraided them for their hardness of heart and their lack of faith in the words of those who had seen Him. He gave them a good telling off because they had no faith!
And the first person entrusted to speak the words of the resurrection was a woman, not a man. How often today have women been prevented from carrying out ministry that men do regularly for The Lord? How often have women been treated as almost second class citizens by the churches when it comes to doing the ministry of Jesus? And yet here we see that the pivotal ministry of the resurrection, so crucial to all we believe as Christians, and without which there is no Christianity was first entrusted to a woman.
This is a powerful message. The Lord can use and will use any of His servants to minister to His people. And Paul appropriately made the point in Galatians 3:27-28 saying,
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
We are all one in Christ. And in His ministry we are all capable of carrying out His work. God shows no partiality between His people on the basis of race, colour or gender. All are His and He will use them as He desires, just as He used Mary to first announce the resurrection to His disciples.
So never let anyone deny you anything in The Lord because you are a woman, a foreigner, a different colour, you don’t have a degree in theology or even that you are a young Christian. The Lord can and will use any and all of His people regardless of their station in life to work His works and to do His ministry.
(Clipart sourced from: ChristiansUnite.com http://clipart.christiansunite.com/)
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