My Lord and My God

human standing beside crucifix statue on mountain

We all know the resurrection story well. And we believe, otherwise we would not be Christians. Sometimes it’s easy to take our faith for granted because many of us have been taught from a young age. We live in a country where Bibles are readily available and it even follows us on our phone. But the first disciples of Jesus had a different vantage point than we do. They were with Jesus and witnessed his many miracles, including bringing people back from the dead.

It shouldn’t be that surprising, then, that they had a difficult time believing that Jesus had died in such a vulnerable way. The One who was able to raise people from the dead was now. . . dead. When he appeared alive at the tomb to Mary, John, and Peter, they believed and announced it to the other disciples. Then Jesus appeared to the disciples and “he showed them his hands and his side” (John 20:20 ESV). For whatever reason, Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus showed up.

The other disciples told Thomas that they saw Jesus but Thomas said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into his side, I will never believe” (vs. 25). Jesus did not appear to Thomas until eight days later when he showed up to the whole group. He allowed Thomas to put his finger in his side and to look at his hands. Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” (vs. 28).

Jesus asked a rhetorical question, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (vs. 29). We truly are blessed. And we truly do believe in Jesus’ resurrection!

The Empty Tomb


The resurrection of Christ will be celebrated across the world this coming Easter Sunday. John’s account of the resurrection is very telling. Mary Magdalene went to the tomb before the sun had come up but saw that the stone had been moved. She ran and told Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:2 ESV). Peter and John ran to the tomb, only to find it empty. John said that once inside the tomb, he believed.

John remembered that Jesus had been talking about raising from the dead but “they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (vs. 9). Seeing the linens made the lightbulb turn on and John immediately believed. He and Peter ran home. This is interesting and important. They didn’t run to tell the other disciples. Instead they ran home to be with their families.

It appears that Mary wasn’t quite as convinced. She stood at the entrance to the tomb weeping. She saw two angels sitting where Jesus’ body once was. When they asked her why she was weeping, she said, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (vs. 13). It wasn’t until Jesus revealed himself to her in person that she believed. It was her, not Peter and John, who went an told the other disciples! This is, by far, the most important story for us as Christians. Paul says that if the resurrection didn’t happen then “our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). But we know that the resurrection did happen and therefore we have hope, confidence, and salvation!

The Resurrection Is of First Importance

photo of grass field

Paul told the church in Corinth that “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:3-5 ESV). Paul lays out, in no uncertain terms, the reason why it’s so important: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (vs. 13-14).

Christ’s resurrection had to take place in order for our resurrection to take place. This is why we celebrate! The resurrection means that we will be given a new heavenly body, and “the glory of the heavenly is one of a kind” (vs. 39). Living in the reality of the resurrection means that we no longer fear death. This is why Paul quotes Hosea: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (vs. 55).

As Christians, we don’t hide from death. We embrace it as part of a new life with Christ. Paul says that nothing can grow unless there is first death. He likens our body to seeds that are sown in a field. Nothing can take root and grow up until it dies and is sown into the ground. In light of the resurrection, Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (vs. 58).

Jesus Appears to Mary

brown and black rock formation

Mary Magdalene is one of the most important and influential women in the New Testament. She had seven demons, which presumably Jesus cast out. She was a wealthy woman (Luke 8:2-3) and joined other wealthy, influential Galilean women who provided for Jesus and his disciples. Mary Magdalene is mentioned fourteen times in the Bible and in eight of those, she is mentioned along with other women. Whenever she is mentioned with other women, her name appears first, signifying her importance.

Unlike most of the disciples, Mary was at the foot of the cross when Jesus died. When Peter and John ran to the tomb after hearing it was empty, they eventually went home, not understanding what Jesus said about being raised from the dead. It was Mary Magdalene, however, who stayed at the tomb alone. While she was standing there, Jesus appeared to her.

The angels asked Mary why she was weeping. She said, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they laid him” (John 20:13 ESV). Then Jesus appeared to her and also asked why she was weeping and who she was seeking. Not knowing it was Jesus, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away” (vs. 15). Jesus answered, “Mary.” Then she recognized him and clung to him.

Jesus told her not to cling to him because he had yet to ascend. Instead, Jesus told her to go to the disciples and tell them that “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (vs. 17). Mary effectively became the first person to proclaim the risen Christ. Jesus could have easily appeared to Peter and John but he didn’t. He waited until they went home to appear to Mary. He intentionally chose Mary to be the person to carry the message out that the Christ was risen from the dead! Mary–the one who was plagued with seven demons. Mary–a woman who was looked down on in Jesus’ day. Jesus’ resurrection is a story of hope and restoration, of salvation and equality.

Pentecost Revival


Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, was celebrated seven weeks after Passover. It was one of the three annual pilgrimage feasts where Jews from all over the world made the trek to Jerusalem to celebrate. They were celebrating the first fruits of their crops and would offer up some of the crops as a way to thank God our Father.

Jesus was crucified on the Passover, fifty days before Pentecost. During Pentecost, Jerusalem was packed with people. The disciples were gathered together in one place and the Spirit descended on them, entering like a mighty rushing wind and descending like dividing tongues as of fire, resting on each one. God’s Spirit was given as a sort of “first fruits” to the Christians that day.

As the Feast of Weeks was a celebration of plentiful harvest, so the ushering in of God’s Spirit commemorate a plentiful harvest of souls. Disciples began speaking in different languages, so that everyone could hear the message in their native tongue. Peter preached a sermon on the resurrection of Jesus, a fitting message for the celebration of the new crop. Peter said, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24 ESV).

Peter delivered the rest of his message, which cut the people to the heart and prompted their question, “What shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38, 39).

Luke says that those who received his word were baptized, and about three thousand were added to the church that day. This is the Good News for those of us who were once dead in our sins. There is a first fruit of the Spirit that waits for us, which will renew us and give us power over death. There was revival on the day of Pentecost!

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

Jesus’ Resurrection Did Not Have Fanfare

Empty tomb

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, most churches had special services planned for Easter. Easter Sunday is the most attended church event out of all 52 weeks. Many churches use it as an outreach for people who only bring their families for Easter services. Bigger churches put on Easter plays and some have full production teams. The resurrection of Jesus is definitely worth celebrating!

This year has certainly changed things dramatically. LifeWay Research in Nashville did a recent survey among pastors in the US and, at the time of the survey, they found that 47% of churches will be closed on Easter. Only 3% said they will have in-person gatherings no matter what, and many said they will wait and see what the recommendations are at Easter time. A lot of churches are worried about funds, as the economy has slowed and many people have lost jobs. As Christians, we are all forced to rethink both how we do church and how we are the church.

The best place to look is to Jesus Christ. His resurrection did not have fanfare. While there was an earthquake, Jesus did not seek out big crowds. He could have walked the streets of Jerusalem, proclaiming victory over death. He could have walked to the Temple and announced that he was risen. Much like our Easter of today, Jerusalem was swarming with people who traveled for the Passover. Thousands would have heard of Jesus’ death. Jerusalem was primed for a huge resurrection Sunday appearance by the king of the Jews.

Instead of a large gathering, Jesus left the tomb and didn’t appear to anyone until later that day: “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:1-3 ESV). The women found two angels and were told to tell the disciples. Peter and John went to the tomb to see with their own eyes and found it empty, exactly as the women had reported. For an entire day, the disciples marveled at the risen Christ but still had not seen him until evening.

Jesus instead walked with two people on the road to Emmaus, a village that rested seven miles from Jerusalem. They didn’t know that it was Jesus until he revealed himself in the breaking of bread: “Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35). The two men ran the seven miles back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples, and that’s when Jesus showed himself to the eleven disciples for the first time.

Jesus chose to only reveal himself to a few people. Over and over again, Jesus is revealed to small groups. Yet the gospel spread very quickly. The great news about the resurrection is that we don’t need huge church gatherings for Jesus to continue to reveal himself. He works through small groups, and in unconventional ways. The word of God is powerful and effective, and will continue to bring salvation to many!!

Photo used with permission under Creative Commons.

Jesus Predicts His Death and a Fight Ensues

Jesus on cross

Resurrection Sunday is about to be celebrated around the world. Easter Sunday is a time for us to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a time to participate in new life, in the salvation we have and hope in eternal life. But leading up to the resurrection was the betrayal and death of Jesus. It was a dark moment in history. In fact, Jesus said to his captors, “When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53 ESV).

The events leading up to Jesus’ revealing of his death were mountaintop experiences, literally. Luke records that the transfiguration happened just prior to this. Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a mountain and began to pray. As he prayed, his clothes became dazzling white, his appearance changed, and Moses and Elijah appeared. This moment was frozen in time for the three disciples. A cloud enveloped them and a voiced boomed, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35).

The very next day a man pleaded with Jesus to heal his only son. The boy was possessed by a violent demon that would seize him, convulse him, and shatter him. Jesus’ disciples had already attempted to cast the demon out but were unsuccessful. So Jesus healed the boy, and handed him back to his father. There was no question at this point about the power and compassion of Jesus. At this point, he seemed invincible to everyone around, including the disciples.

Luke records what happened next: “While they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.'” (Luke 9:43, 44). Jesus, of course, was referring to his death. But his disciples didn’t know what he meant and they began to argue about which of them was greater than the other.

“But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in my name receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great” (Luke 9:48). Jesus was reminding them that he was going to die, that being great means being the least of all, and that welcoming little ones in the name of Christ is their purpose. It’s a great reminder for all of us as we think about what matters entering into the Resurrection Sunday.

Photo by Michael Bourgault on Unsplash