He could have made it epic entrance because it was an epic event.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was the personification of epic. It was a blockbuster. It was an otherworldly, cosmic event.
· it was an incident that introduced to human beings, for the very first time, the possibility of eternal life
· it was an event that satisfied the wrath of God
· it was the victory that broke the power of evil
· it was the spark that lit the flame of a revolution that swept the known world
· it swept the Holy Spirit into the world and gave birth to the church
Yeah…it was an epic event…and as such you would expect that when Jesus rose from the dead he would have done something eye-popping. Like…
· levitating in the sky over Jerusalem in the site of everyone
· appearing as a menacing 100 ft tall Jesus on hillside where he died
· or rolling into town with a 10,000 member angel army
· or suddenly appearing simultaneously to every leader in the known world
But he didn’t…when Jesus rose from the dead he did not grandstand…he did not make the resurrection front page news…
But he made it personal and intimate. He went out and met people right where the were …quietly and privately.
- He met two guys on a walk between towns – chatted with them over dinner
- He met a small handful of folks on a beach – even cooked them breakfast
- He showed up unexpectedly in a private gathering behind closed doors.
And perhaps the most fascinating private encounter he had post resurrection was the first.
- in a garden beside the very tomb in which he was buried – he met Mary Magdalene.
This was not the first time he met this woman - Mary of Magdala - the first time, she was definitely not at her best.
Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out… Luke 8:1-2
· As far as we can tell Mary was a single…childless…woman – the epitome of non-person in that day.
· And when Jesus first met her she was quite literally out of her mind (filled with 7 demons)
o If she was literally demon possessed then she was likely a frightening , writhing, growling monster of a person (not unlike others Jesus had met)
o If this was a figure of speech…she was likely so out of her mind with mental illness than she was beyond controlling.
· Church tradition eventually equated her with the sinful woman who once approached Jesus…a prostitute but there is no evidence to corroborate that.
· Regardless – she was a mess, a tragic mess…and Jesus met her, healed her, saved her and gave her her life back.
This is what Jesus did all the time…and what Jesus does all the time:
- he meets people at their point of need and saves them…redeems them…transforms them…takes their hand and connects it with the hand of God.
For the next 2-3 years Mary, in deep gratitude, followed Jesus everywhere along with his disciples…followed him all the way to the cross…
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25
Mary was one of the few who stuck around all the way through the horror of the crucifixion. Many of his followers ran but Mary…
· stayed through the mocking, the nails, blood, gore, stabbing, whipping, crown of thorns
· she was traumatized through the torture and inhumanity
· she was terrified by the unnatural darkness and the earthquake
But she stayed glued to Jesus all the way to the tomb…
Joseph placed Jesus’ body in his own new tomb.. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. Matthew 27:59-61
- Only after the stone thudded into place did she leave to observe the Sabbath and prepare spices to cover his body the next day.
And then came that epic moment…
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance…John 20:1
· in fear she ran to Peter and John - “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
· She, Peter and John hurried back to the tomb and discovered the empty grave clothes.
· The guys then they went home and left Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping.
· At some point Mary stooped and peered into the tomb and saw two white-robed angels, “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
· “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
· She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. assumes it was the gardener…
Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?
Sir, she said, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.
Mary! Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, Teacher!
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
And Mary in astonished joy…Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” John 20:1-18
- - - - - -
Jesus met her. Twice…at the worst possible moments of her life He showed up.
When I was out of my mind…
Jesus met me
In a garden, in my deepest loss…
Jesus met me.
This is what Jesus does – he meets us at the point of our greatest need, most complete lostness, place of unfulfilled longings, most obstinate sins…he meets us.
Mary is just one of the billions of people Jesus has met.
· Notorious Little Zaccheus, cheater and rip off artist: In a tree when I was full of myself
· the Woman caught in adultery – In my worst moment of shame
· An invalid man, crippled for life – By a pool when I couldn’t walk
· Thomas, the doubter – At my most cynical moment
This is what Jesus does. He doesn’t wait for us to find him. He isn’t playing hide and seek or hard to get.
- He comes TO us…all the time.
- Me meets us…all the time.
- He pursues you all the time.
Jesus meets you always at the point of your greatest need…at your deepest place of sorrow…your worst place of shame…and at your hardest point of cynicism and unbelief.
Francis Thompson in one of the most famous poems of all time referred to God (and thus to Jesus) as the Hound of Heaven…a hunting dog…unrelenting …unremitting
· C.S Lewis added to that =- God is “The Great Angler” …the great Cat chasing his mouse …the Divine Chess player maneuvering me into position.
Soon, I could no longer cherish even the illusion that the initiative lay with me. My Adversary began to make his final moves. C.S.Lewis
And…C.S. Lewis surrendered his life to Jesus…who met him even as one of God’s great skeptics
When I was a furious skeptic
STOP!...FEEL…SENSE…he’s doing it right now…
You so realize why Jesus had to raise from the dead don’t you…? He did that so he would be able to meet you.
If he stays in the grave…he is just a story from history…a relic of days gone by…but because he lives…he can and does seek to pursue you…to meet you personally.
He has been pursuing you all your life
· He was there when you were born…when you took your first steps
· He was there the day you got on the bus for the first time
· He was there are your first date… your first day on the new job…etc.
· He has been there through every tear that has fallen and every joy experienced.
…and the very reason you are sitting here today is due to his unrelenting pursuit of you.
He wants to meet you. To persuade you to surrender your life to him.
In my college apartment bedroom – Jesus Met me.
He wants to meet you here today – in the Forum Conference Center, Fishers or South Auditorium at 146th St.
In a fascinating little passage in the very last book of the Bible Jesus speaks to each of us when he said…
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
Your life is a house…at your front door there is a knock…and Jesus has come to meet you.