Easter Sunday does not end at the Resurrection. Easter is a time of reflecting on what Jesus did for us when He went to the cross, died for our sins and miraculously rose from the grave. But that’s not the end. It’s just the beginning!
It can be easy to stop at celebrating the Resurrection - it was an amazingly, huge, miraculous, saving and life-changing moment for those of us who are Christ-followers for which we are eternally grateful - AMEN?
Several incredible things occur right after Jesus resurrects. The very first thing that happens shows us so much more about Jesus’ love for us and about who He is as a friend. In John 20:11-18, we see a beautiful exchange take place between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. She encounters Him in a very sweet & simple way that we can learn a few things from.
Mary arrived back at the tomb, broken and sobbing. She stooped to peer inside, and through her tears she saw two angels in dazzling white robes, sitting where Jesus’ body had been laid—one at the head and one at the feet! “Dear woman, why are you crying?” they asked. Mary answered, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.” Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was him! He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Mary answered, thinking he was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken his body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and . . .” “Mary,” Jesus interrupted her. Turning to face him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “my teacher”) Jesus cautioned her, “Mary, don’t hold on to me now, for I haven’t yet ascended to God, my Father. And he’s not only my Father and God, but now he’s your Father and your God! Now go to my brothers and tell them what I’ve told you, that I am ascending to my Father—and your Father, to my God—and your God!” Then Mary Magdalene left to inform the disciples of her encounter with Jesus. “I have seen the Lord!” she told them. And she gave them his message. - John 20:11-18
This exchange between Mary + Jesus is beautiful. It’s powerful! This back-and-forth conversation between Mary and Jesus (who has just risen from the dead - don’t miss that - the biggest miracle in History) coming to visit with and speak to His friend Mary is incredible! What a strong and close friendship they must have had.
There are a few things we can learn about this Easter Encounter with Jesus:
1.) JESUS COMFORTS HER.
After Jesus sees Mary has been crying, He takes the time to ask her why she is crying and who she is looking for. (Ok He is her friend, but He is also the God of the universe - He knows why she’s crying and He knows who she’s looking for and why she’s there). Even though He already knew, Jesus made Mary feel important by asking her. Jesus cares about the things we deeply care about. When we are hurting, He cares, and He shows up and meets us where we are and ministers to us. He cares for and comforts us in the midst of our mourning. The God of the Universe - this living, breathing miracle -loves us enough to come to us and provide for all of our needs.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” - 1 Peter 5:6-7
2.) JESUS CALLS HER BY NAME.
Jesus simply says, “MARY!” He only has to say her name once for Mary to recognize him. Jesus knows us and He calls us by name. We don’t know exactly what it was that made her know - maybe it was the way He said it. Maybe it was the timbre or tone of His voice, but it was just enough for her to know it truly was JESUS - her teacher and beloved friend. Scripture says that He knew our name before we did. It also says that His people know His voice. These were words he had already shared with his followers. Such a powerful moment all in one word - her name!
”My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” - John 10:27
3.) JESUS COMMISSIONS HER.
He commissions and sends Mary to go and tell His brothers what she had just seen. Mary was the first messenger of the Good News of His Resurrection. He chose her. He said this to her before He said it to anyone else. What a huge responsibility but what a tremendous privilege!
“All the authority of the universe has been given to me. Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.” - Matthew 28:18-20
4.) MARY RESPONDS.
Mary stayed close to Jesus the entire time she had known Him. She didn’t waver in her faith or wallow in her grief. Her friendship must of been of the utmost importance to Jesus to have charged her with this task of sharing His Message - that HE HAD RISEN - He had defeated death and had done everything He said He would do. She was witnessing history and she got to be the first to share it. Mary doesn’t waste anytime either. She immediately obeyed and went and did just that.
Then Mary Magdalene left to inform the disciples of her encounter with Jesus. “I have seen the Lord!” she told them. And she gave them his message. - John 20:18
That the Bible uses this word ‘ENCOUNTER’ here is significant. I can’t really think of a time I have hung out with a friend of mine and went and told someone, “I had an amazing encounter with my friend at Starbucks today!” No one really talks like that, do they? But what a great word. She not only saw Jesus, she encountered Him. She was moved to action. She had an ‘experience’ with Jesus that was so significant, it would forever change her.
”Since we are receiving our rights to an unshakeable kingdom we should be extremely thankful and offer God the purest worship that delights his heart as we lay down our lives in absolute surrender, filled with awe.” - Hebrews 12:28
We can respond to this Easter Encounter too. If anything, I think the take away for us today from reading about this exchange between Mary + Jesus is to contemplate what our own relationship with Jesus is?
HAVE WE ENCOUNTERED JESUS? HAVE WE SEEN JESUS? Not just do we believe in Him or follow Him, but have we truly ENCOUNTERED Him. Have we had a moment so sweet and so memorable that we have been forever changed? Are we still in awe of our Lord or has it become a relationship of convenience?
As Christ-followers, we, like Mary, have been sent out with the Gospel message that is so transforming and so moving that we should be able to say, “I have encountered Jesus. I have seen Jesus.” Our story of transformation through the Gospel should be just as powerful and tangible. People should see it, hear it and feel it when they are around us, so much so that they can say of us “he/she has encountered Jesus - he/she has been with Jesus!”
How close are you to the Lord? Do you know him? When was the last time you had an encounter with Jesus or a strong exchange with Him? Have you seen Jesus? Would you recognize his voice? Would you obey Him without question? Do you know how much Jesus loves and cares for you? Do you know that you too are called by Him to share His message with others?
Today is a great day to encounter Jesus! Mary found the risen Jesus today and so can you.
For those of us who DON’T have a relationship with Him this is a beautiful picture of His love and care for us and the kind of relationship He wants with all of us. If you would like more information on how you can have a relationship with Jesus, please email us. We would love to share Jesus’ gospel message with you too!
For those of us that DO have a relationship with Him maybe we just need to be reminded of this today - to seek Him - to encounter Him - to be with Him - to obey Him and to be sent out by Him. What do you need to respond to today?
We hope and pray this Easter Encounter and beautiful exchange with the Risen Jesus has encouraged you, connected you to fresh possibilities of what your faith is capable of and given you fuel for prayer and to encounter Jesus beyond Easter Sunday.
HE IS RISEN!