A lot can change in a week's time, and it had.
First, there'd been the triumphal entry, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. People shouted Hosannahs and threw palm branches on the ground before Him. It looked as if He would soon come into His kingdom.
The Jewish officials watched the crowd and knew it was true. Jesus would take over if they didn't do something. They'd pondered their options for a while, but they were finally sure.
Jesus had to go.
Less than a week later, they got what they wanted. Jesus was crucified as a criminal. They were finally free of Him, or so they thought.
When the women went to the tomb early that Sunday morning, they saw the stone rolled away and ran back to get the men. "The Lord's body has been stolen," they cried.
Peter and John raced to see. We don't know what they thought, but surely someone in the group remembered what Jesus had said.
"He said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise.'" Mark 9:31 niv
Peter, followed by John, looked into the tomb. They saw the grave clothes and the folded face cloth, and they believed. I can imagine Peter looking at John and John looking back, a little twinkle in their eyes. "Yep," they probably thought. "He's done what He said."
I'm a little surprised that they didn't stay to look for Jesus, but, really, where do you go to find a risen Savior?
Peter and John left Mary, still crying in the garden, and went home.
"Why are you crying?" Jesus asked Mary. She was caught up in her weeping, as women are prone to be, and didn't notice who had spoken.
It was Jesus.
The Missing Messiah wasn't missing at all. He'd just been walking in the garden.
A stroll in the garden doesn't seem unusual until you remember that He had been beaten beyond recognition, whipped with a scourge until His back was ripped open and bleeding, hung on a cross, and crucified until He died. A crown of thorns had been jammed onto his forehead. A soldier had stuck a sword into his side so that blood and water had poured out.
The last time she'd seen Jesus, He'd been dead.
He'd spent the rest of His time since then defeating sin and death. We don't know all that happened while His body was in the tomb, but He emerged with fresh clothing and a fresh body. He was on the move.
It's called Prevenient Grace, this ever-seeking grace of God that searches for us when we're far away and calls us back to Him. We shouldn't be surprised that the first action we see from our risen Savior is that of seeking out one of His own.
Peter and John could go home without anxiety because they understood one important fact. If Jesus was raised, He would come to them, because they were His.
No matter where we are, we're never too far for Jesus.
No matter what we've done, we're never too bad for Jesus.
No matter how long we've lived, we're never too old for Jesus.
He knows His own, and our Good Shepherd still seeks his wandering sheep. He's not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to Him.
A lot can change in a week's time, including in us.
If we're tired of our sin and its consequences, we have a Messiah who can change us, cleanse us, wash us white as snow, and fill us with His Spirit. He can (and will) replace fear with power, hate with love, sorrow with joy, doubt with faith, despair with hope.
Our Jesus is able to forgive, to love, to change.
If you're ready, He is, too.
In case you missed this Holy Weekend's posts, here are the links: