Maybe it was the combination of Good Friday falling on my dad’s 4th heavenly birthday and the solemnness that emanated from the Tenebrae service I attended at church that caused my mind to wander down the road of contemplating how death impacts those left behind.
Years before dad passed, I started to prepare myself for the one-day-inevitable. I’ve worked in senior health care for much of my career and seen my fair share of road traveled with life ending diseases. And as much as I loved my dad and wished that Parkinson’s wasn’t wracking his body, I knew what lay ahead, the disease would win, strip me of my father and I’d never see him again, this side of heaven.
I’m guessing Mary Magdalene and the disciples also understood the finality of death. After all, we live in a fallen world and know that while life is beautiful and precious, it also carries with it finality.
That was before Jesus entered their lives and flipped the script of life and death.
For three solid years they followed, watched, listened, learned and were profoundly changed by His Holy presence.
But then, in one fell swoop, Christ was gone.
Can you just imagine their heartache and confusion? They knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was The Holy Christ, Son of God, and yet, He died a human death. But why? Why would Jesus die like us?
Now for us, and even for Mary and the others, prior to the resurrection, we accept death and its finality as a part of living this life. But let’s imagine for a moment if there was a knock at the door and your beloved family member who had recently died, stood before you, fully healed, healthy and they join you for dinner.
What would you think? You might think someone was playing a cruel joke on you or maybe you’d believe they were an image created in your mind because of grief.
Look at Mary. She’s overcome with grief and as one final act of reverence she comes to prepare the body for burial. But the moment she enters the tomb her grief turns to bewilderment, fear and confusion. What has happened to her Lord? She turns to the man standing next to her, thinking he is the gardener, “Sir, where have you moved the body?”
It’s understandable to me that she doesn’t recognize who she is talking to, because the last time she laid eyes on Christ, He’d been brutally beaten beyond recognizability and let’s face it, no one comes back from death. Yet, the man before her is whole and healthy.
So can you imagine when the eyes of her heart were opened and the truth of who stood before her over road the logic in her brain? Shock, disbelief, confusion, and joy! Oh my! The unprecedented joy! Your brain tells you no! But you heart says, yes!
Jesus is alive!
I love how Mary Magdalene grabs hold of Jesus when she realizes He is standing next to her.
In fact, there’s this image floating around the internet that I think speaks to how I imagine Mary jumping into His arms when she realizes Jesus was alive!
Look at her joy! Death did not win!
In this moment is where the hope of Christ springs forth!
For three agonizing days many believed death had had its last word and won. But then, just as He promised, our precious Lord stands before us, filling us once again with hope and joy!
Holy truth! Jesus made a promise, and He kept His word!
Amen and Amen!!!
The idea of Jesus coming back from death to stand among us, to show us that even death held no power over our Lord and that He conquered the very moment that brings such grief and finality is absolutely mind boggling. But that’s exactly what Jesus did.
Oh, how they must’ve rejoiced and been confused all at the same time, don’t you think? I bet their thoughts volleyed back and forth, finally settling on one conclusion, Jesus said it, He meant it and He did it!
But what about us and our loved ones? We know death to be final and the permanence weighs heavier on our hearts than simply missing them due to time, placement and distance.
Christ again gives hope by reminding us that through Him we do not need to grieve as the world grieves. We can rejoice in the truth that death no longer carries permanency. One day just as He promised to John in the book of Revelations 3:11a, “I am coming soon.”
The definition of soon means, “without unnecessary delay and in perfect timing.”
Doesn’t that change your perspective of life and death? Yes, death happens and there is plenty of heartache. But there can also be joy! Because just as Jesus showed us that death has no power over Him, we too can embrace the fact that death has lost its sting. One day, either because we draw our last breath or Christ returns, we do not need to live in grief as one who has no hope.
Yes, I will miss my dad until I see him again face to face and knowing I will see him again because of what Christ has done, eases the sting of losing him for now.
If you have lost a loved one, I pray that the truth, love and hope of Christ comforts your hearts.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Until we meet again, may God keep you in perfect peace.
Blessings and best wishes,