Be in a place to be surprised by the work of the Lord

One of the facts about the resurrection of Jesus Christ that I love is that Mary Magdalene put herself in a position to be surprised by Jesus. She got to the tomb first on that Sunday morning, having gone there to anoint the body of the Lord. He had been in the grave since Friday afternoon, and Mary knew that there was a stone and guards to be dealt with, but that didn’t keep her away. She had to go. She had to see him one last time.
Her first surprise came when she arrived and the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. Jesus’ body was not there. Mary ran to get Peter and John, two of Jesus’ closest disciples, and the two men raced back to see for themselves. They found it just as she had said. The tomb was
empty. The
linen cloths that had been Jesus’ graveclothes were folded. The handkerchief that had been around the Lord’s head was also there, but the body was gone. Peter and John looked and believed the report that Mary had given them: Jesus was not in the tomb. They left the cemetery and went back home.
Here’s a question for you: Why didn’t the disciples see Jesus in the cemetery? If your first response is, “Because he was not there,” you would be incorrect. The answer is, “Because they did not stay around long enough to see him.” Mary apparently followed the two disciples back to the tomb, and she stood outside the open sepulcher, weeping. When she looked in, Mary had her second surprise. She saw two angels sitting where Jesus’ head and feet had been. They asked Mary why she was weeping and she said she wept because someone had taken away the body of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps this is what Peter and John had believed, which would explain why they returned home. This is what most of the world believes, as well, those who have any belief at all about Jesus of Nazareth. “He was a good man,” they say, “but things went south in a hurry. He died. End of story.”
Mary’s third surprise came when she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize him. He asked her the same question the angels had asked: “Why are you weeping?” Mary thought he was the gardener and that this was the man who had taken the Lord’s body away. She didn’t know how right she was! Mary asked him to tell her where the body was. It was then that Jesus spoke her name: “Mary!” Jesus called her name and everything changed in Mary’s world from that moment. It reminds me of another cemetery scene: Jesus called Lazarus’ name and the man who had been in the tomb for four days had the surprise of his death. When Jesus calls your name, life happens.
Here was Jesus, the man who had been laid in the tomb Friday evening, alive Sunday morning. Mary was right in assuming that this “gardener” had taken Jesus out of the tomb. The one who took away the body was the one in the body. Jesus had said to his disciples earlier in his ministry, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. … I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” What a Savior! Mary was in a place where she could be surprised by Jesus. Are you?

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