Glorious Resurrection Day: He’s Already Up
The glorious appearance of Christ Jesus to Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of John is the consummate show stealer. All else pales in the glimpse of His beautiful face, rinsed of blood and flushed with fresh life.
She’s sobbing. The hole that the loss of Jesus would cause in a life would be unlike any other. Incomparable. A canyon carved out of granite earth. A bottomless pit. A soul’s abyss. His words, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you” in Hebrews 13:5 relieve us of the most horrific prospect in the human experience: the loss of Jesus. But the woman in this scene got to feel it and, in this terrifying state, nothing of value – no one of value – was recognizable to her.
Deeply moved, He puts His loved one out of her misery.
“Mary,” He says.
And she grabs onto Him for dear life until He has to peel her off His Person to send her forth with the news that changes everything.
But right there in the very first verse is a piece of information that captures my imagination over and over.
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” (John 20:1)
Look at it one more time. How early?
“While it was still dark.”
Really, does it get any earlier than while it is still dark? And He was already up. Already alive.
“While it was still dark” was too late to catch Christ in the tomb. She’d overslept the divine alarm.
Doesn’t it touch you that the Father did not wait till dawn? For Scripture to be perfectly and vividly fulfilled, Christ had to be raised on the third day. Isn’t there treasure in the realization that the One and only Father of this One and only Son did not even wait until the sun peeked over the horizon? If it was still dark when Mary found the tomb empty, what unthinkable time must God have raised Him from the dead?
I don’t know. Call me sentimental but I wonder if the Father, patient and long-suffering through the ages, that one particular hour could not bring Himself to wait another minute. After all, He’d been up all night – Blessed and Wide-Eyed Insomniac – while those who could sleep slept. And He’d waited. And waited. And waited. We earthlings have few greater challenges than waiting. Wouldn’t you say? And, as people of faith, our longest waiting can be, in particular, waiting upon the Lord. As one of my mentors used to say, “God is never late but He misses a few good opportunities to be early.”
Except, notably, on this particular Sunday morning.
Well, I wonder if perhaps that late Saturday night, God Himself grew anxious waiting upon the Lord. And maybe He watched the clock just long enough for the hour to qualify as morning. And way before dawn, when it was pitch black outside, when the earth seemed without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, God spoke. Maybe something close to this…
“Arise, my Son. My one and only Son, Whom I Love. In whom I am well pleased. up with You! Rise!”
“While it was still dark outside.”
And God said “Let there be Light.”
And there was.
“The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…for God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4b,6)
This morning when I got up to publish this post for you, it was like pitch outside and so very still and the full moon shown like it was proud of itself. And it made me think. Only the moon was up that morning when God brought up the Son.
“They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5)
Happy, happy Resurrection Sunday, my beloved Sisters! There is no day on our calendar like this day. It was without competition, the Father’s best day. As 365 days fly by on the annual calendar, this one is His favorite. Dance it away from dawn till dusk. Worship Him, study Him, seek Him, feast before Him, laugh before Him, hug the people you love before Him, kiss and cuddle those babies before Him, eat dessert before Him, hide eggs before Him, LIVE this whole day before Him. In Him, Through Him. With Him. Dance in the crowd of angels toasting. All emptiness is swallowed whole. He is our fullness. Celebrate this Day! He won it for you. Live it with all the life you have! Give those who know you but do not know Christ a glimpse of abundance alive and spinning in human flesh. Have a festival of praise. Death has lost its sting!
Pat that yawn away. Wash the sleep from your eyes. For no matter how early you got out of bed this morning, one thing is certain.
He was already up.