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April 21, 2023   |    Blog, Devotionals

Easter Message. A Weekly Devotional By Sam Marchetta, Director of Spiritual Care

One of the great stories of Christ’s resurrection occurs in the Book of John.  Jesus’ disciples arrived at the tomb only to discover it was empty.  Obviously, they were concerned.  What happened to the body of Jesus?  Was it stolen?  Did someone move it without their knowledge?  As they contemplated these questions an angel appeared and provided them with the necessary answers.  “He is not here,” the angel said, “for he has risen just as he said he would.”    Understandably, those gathered outside of the tomb had no real idea of what that would mean; after all— how could they?  Mary Magdalene began to weep fearing that someone had stolen his body, and in doing so, made a difficult situation that much more emotional. The grief was palpable.  Intense.

As her body heaved with the sobs of loss, she heard a voice come from behind her. Thinking he was the gardener she replied: “Please Sir, tell me where you have taken his body.”  And then a voice, “Mary.”  At the sound of her name, Mary recognized its source.  It was Jesus.  He had resurrected just like he said he would!  She had come expecting to find something to grieve, only to discover what she thought was dead and buried had been resurrected.

I found myself wondering as I read this Easter story again why Mary did not originally recognize Jesus.  After all, she was probably part of a group of disciples that followed Christ around for years.  Maybe it was too dark for her to really see who was behind her.  It’s also possible her focus was elsewhere (on an empty tomb) and that she could not focus on the details.  However, Scripture says her eyes were clouded with tears.  For me, I most resonate with that simple explanation.  Mary was filled with grief and not only was she crying, but she was looking at a situation through the lens of finality.  In other words, she brought a Good Friday mindset to Easter Sunday morning. 

How often are we guilty of the same thing?  We choose to see what is wrong and not what can be.  We look at life through the lens of hopelessness and finality and not of opportunity and growth.  Because we are focused on our loss, we cannot see new life standing before our eyes. Easter is about new beginnings, second chances, start-ups, do-overs, hope, celebration, and joy. I will never forget a powerful scene that came from Ukraine last year at Holy Week.   The country had already begun to experience intense bombings and many of its buildings were destroyed including some churches.  The country was torn and broken, and there was not a lot of reason to celebrate.  Death and loss were all around. Yet, on Easter Sunday, churches began to meet in the streets, amongst the ruins, and celebrate the hope of Easter.  Why?  Because the message of Easter is worth celebrating.

If today, your life feels hard, broken, or in need of a resurrection, then the message of Easter is for you.