Two Marys searched for Jesus to pay respectsPublished 1:11pm Monday, April 16, 2012
I hope you had a blessed Easter! For me, Easter always brings back special memories. I remember “going downtown” in Columbia, South Carolina on a bus with my mother and two brothers. As my mother shopped, a sales clerk would usually ask, “May I help you?” To which my mother would usually reply, “Just looking. Thank you.”
At our Easter Sunrise Worship Service at First Presbyterian Church we started Easter morning by looking at the above text. In his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Paul Beasley-Murray reminds us that the two Marys early that first Easter Sunday symbolize blind devotion. They undoubtedly loved Jesus, but they had no expectation of him being alive that morning! They simply went to look and pay their respects to Jesus.
The same thing happened at the crucifixion. According to the Gospel of Matthew 27:55-56, many women, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses, were there at the crucifixion. They were looking upon Jesus, but what did they learn?
Beasley-Murray: “In some ways the two Marys represent a good number of people today who Sunday by Sunday go to church. It would not be true to say that they go to church purely out of habit. It is devotion that takes them to church. They would say that they love Jesus, and they probably do. But they have no expectations of him (emphasis mine)! They would not put it this way, but nevertheless, to all intents and purposes, as far as they are concerned, Jesus is still in his tomb – or, if not in his tomb, then he is shut up in his church. In worshipping Jesus on Sunday mornings they are in effect politely paying him their respects.”
Beasley -Murray continues: “Somehow a shift needs to take place in their understanding, and maybe ours. Looking is not enough (emphasis mine). Understanding, comprehension, is needed. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “18 Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:18-20 ESV).
Again, Beasley-Murray, “If the resurrection is to mean anything at all for us today, then we must understand that Christ’s resurrection power is not buried in some time capsule, but rather is available to us today!” So we have enlightenment, that is, comprehension, which leads to expectation, which leads to Christ’s power working in and through us!
Prayer: O Lord God, may you enlighten us as we gaze upon the empty grave. May we be vessels in and through which the immeasurable greatness of Christ’s resurrection power works, all for your glory! We pray in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
*Source: The Message of the Resurrection, pages 47-48, by Paul Beasley-Murray from The Bible Speaks Today commentary series.
Pastor Jim Thorpe
First Presbyterian Church