Connections 04.12.2020: The Risen Christ

Matthew 28:1-10

I listen to a podcast called “Gone.” In each episode, hosts Richard and Molly discuss something or someone that went missing and has never been found. One of the podcast’s taglines is, “Just because something is gone, [it] doesn’t mean it can’t be found.” They’ve done episodes on missing people such as D. B. Cooper and Jimmy Hoffa and on missing items such as the Hemingway manuscripts and the Library of Alexandria.

In each episode, the hosts tell the story of the missing person or item. They then present and discuss various theories as to what may have happened. But at the end of every episode, the missing person or item they’ve discussed is still gone. Richard and Molly usually say which theory on the missing person or thing’s fate they favor, but they’ve not yet found anyone or anything.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary know that Jesus is gone. When they go “to see the tomb” (v. 1), they know what they will find. They had been there when Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus’ body in the tomb and sealed it with a large stone (27:61). They expect to see a sealed tomb that contains Jesus’ body. They don’t expect to see Jesus. He is gone. His body is behind the stone. The two women and Jesus’ other followers will never see him again. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary know that.

When the two Marys arrive at the tomb on Sunday morning, they find that Jesus is indeed gone. But he is gone in a way they don’t expect.

He is gone in a way that means he is still here.

The angel who rolled the stone from the mouth of the tomb tells the women, “I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified” (v. 5). Then he tells them, “He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said” (v. 6a). The angel next extends an invitation to the two Marys: “Come, see the place where he lay” (v. 6b).

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had already concluded that Jesus was gone. They never expected to see him again.

They now discover that Jesus is indeed gone. But he isn’t gone in the sense of being locked away in a tomb forever. He is rather gone from the tomb.

But because of the resurrection, for Jesus to be gone means that Jesus is still here. Jesus is here with his followers. The two Marys find this out for themselves when the resurrected Jesus appears to them.

Jesus is gone. Jesus is here.

He is here with us. He is here with us through the Holy Spirit, through the church, through people in need (see Mt 25:31-46), and through whatever other means he chooses to be with us. He is with us to bring life to our death—and life to our life when it feels like death.

Never forget: Jesus is not there in the tomb. Jesus is here with us.

Discussion

  • Why do you think Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb?
  • Neither Matthew nor any of the other Gospel writers attempt to describe Jesus’ resurrection. Why do you think this is?
  • Why might Jesus meet the two Marys as they are on their way to report to the other disciples?
  • How have you experienced the resurrected Jesus? How have you experienced his presence? How would you describe your experience to someone else?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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