Resurrection Sunday Calls Us to Belief

“Little girl, I say to you,  rise up!” 

Perhaps I was dreaming the words because I have been preparing to teach about Jairus’ daughter in the “Jesus Said to Her” series for our Tuesday morning class.  Perhaps, in the recesses of my mind, the words rang familiar as I began to wake but consciously wanted to linger in bed.  Or maybe, the Spirit used the words of Jesus to call me out of bed on Easter morning so that I could spend a little bit more time pondering the wonder of Resurrection Sunday. 

As I woke with the words, “Little girl, I say to you, rise up,” echoing in my heart, I wondered again about what the disciples of Jesus must have been thinking as night gave way to dawn on that Sunday morning.  With somewhere around 60 hours having passed since Jesus had been sealed and secured in the tomb, the shock was probably wearing off a bit. Had they remembered the people Jesus had raised from the dead?  Had their dreams been interwoven with the words, “Little girl, I say to you, rise up”?  When they woke from the broken sleep of grief, did those death-defeating, grave-defying, life-giving words echo in their heart? 

“Young man, I say to you, arise.” 

“Lazarus, come out.” 

“Do not fear.  Only believe.”

As the Lord who had resurrected the widow’s son, Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus still lay dead in the tomb–what must they have been thinking?  How confused did they feel?

As the early rays of the sunrise lightened the window beside my bed this morning, my mind drifted to that first Sunday after the crucifixion.  The Sunday that changed all of eternity began with women walking back to the tomb.  They had been there when Joseph of Arimathea laid the body on the stone slab in the tomb just before the Sabbath began.  As they observed the Sabbath rest, they had steeled their hearts against the image of his body lying in that grave and for the task of returning there, taking the spices and ointments to anoint the broken, lifeless body of Jesus.  What words first crossed their grieving minds as they woke that Sunday? Did they encourage themselves with the words He had spoken of the one who had anointed his feet as he sat at Simon’s table?  “She has done a beautiful thing . . . she has done it to prepare me for burial.” 

Scripture doesn’t tell us much about what the disciples were thinking between the Passover sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the discovery of the empty tomb, but we can imagine that heartbreak and sorrow  dominated their thoughts, that doubt and fear overwhelmed their hearts, because in our darkest moments we have struggled with those doubts and fears.  The Holy Spirit reveals that they did not understand what Jesus had told them about his coming death and resurrection until much later. 

Even when the women arrived at the tomb to find the stone rolled away and an angel proclaiming that Jesus had risen, they didn’t understand.    Peter and another apostle rushed to the tomb and found the burial clothes, Jesus gone; and yet they doubted.   As Mary Magdalene lingered, weeping alone in the garden because someone had “taken” her Lord, she clearly did not believe the angels’ declaration that Jesus was not dead.  Her doubts melted away when Jesus made His first appearance as the resurrected Son of the Living God and spoke her name.  Over and over again, this pattern repeats—the resurrection is proclaimed but still the follower doubts—until Jesus reveals Himself personally, truly resurrected.  

What must they have been thinking?  Even with the tomb empty, they struggled with doubt.

“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe,” Thomas declared. 

“Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side,” Jesus said when He appeared to Thomas eight days later.  “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”   Jesus met them each, just as He met Thomas when he was struggling with doubt, and helped them each believe. 

During that interaction with Thomas, Jesus looked across almost two thousand years, into my heart that struggles with doubts and said, “Have you believed because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  In those words–“who have not seen and yet have believed”– I hear Him speak my name, and like Mary on that first Easter morning, my heart cries out “Rabboni.”

 

 

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