It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Recognizing the Resurrected Christ, a reflection on John 20:1-18

Reading for Easter Day: Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8

The alternate gospel readings for today differ in the details. I am certainly not going to try to iron over those differences. Rather, today, I'm reflecting on John's message.

Mary Magdalene, one of the women who had stood near the cross (John 20:25) has come before daybreak to the tomb. When she sees that the stone has been rolled away, she runs to tell the disciples. Peter and the other disciple (we assume John) race each other to get there.

John gets there first, looks in, and see the burial wrappings left behind. Peter then goes in and also sees the wrappings and realizes that the cloth that has been on Jesus' head has been rolled up. Then John goes in, and we are told that he saw and believed.

What does he believe? What does belief do for him?

After the disciples left, Mary stayed. As she is weeping, angels come to her--to comfort? She sees Jesus but does not recognize him immediately.

She has a short conversation with him but is able to recognize him only when he speaks her name.

Jesus tells her to go tell. She obeys. She is the first witness to the resurrection.

Yet, as we read in the next verse, the disciples are so afraid that they lock themselves in. What do we believe? What does belief do for us?

Mary finally did recognize Jesus and did do what he told her. Yet, she was not immediately able to convince the disciples.

I remember a story that someone told me years ago. Although I can't remember the source, I want to repeat it anyway:
When the National Zoo in Washington D.D. moved to a spacious new area, the rhinoceros was confused. It now had a wide-open living space, but it had lived in a cage too long. Even though it now had more room, it quickly made a boundary the exact dimensions of its old cage. it wore an oval path in the grass that corresponded to the old iron bars.
The resurrected Christ can appear in our ordinary lives. We may be able to recognize his presence. Or, like the rhinoceros, we may restrict ourselves to our old path. I ask again, what does belief do for us?

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