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Mark 282 - Two Words

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Mark 16:9-11

How do we react when we receive good news? Do we ask questions? Do we rejoice? Do we ignore it?

I was in the waiting room while Mary Ann was going through cancer surgery. I don’t know if you’ve ever gone through cancer surgery yourself. With a family member. A close friend. It takes a long time, or at least it seems that way. When the surgeon or nurse come out to tell you how things went, you want to hear two words, “Clean margins.” That’s doctor-speak for “They got it all.”

These are the two words that you were told to hope and pray for. These are the two words that there’s no guarantees that you’ll hear. These are the two words that you hope to hear.

Before hearing those two words, I was nervous. On edge. Worried. After receiving the good two words from the surgeon, I smiled so much I just about broke my jaw. My smile was so wide that I almost swallowed my ears. I breathed a prayer of thanks to God and then frantically started calling people. Our kids. Her parents. Her sisters. My parents. Our friends.

Mary Magdalene comes to the disciples with the two words they never expected. Two words that Jesus told them were coming. Two words that would make all the difference in the world.

He’s risen.

The faithful message of Mary Magdalene faithfully says the two words that are true and change everything. The two words that she personally witnessed. The two words Jesus told them were coming. The two words that bring power and commitment.

And how did they react? How did they respond? They disbelieved. They refused to be persuaded. They turned their faces away from her. They flat-out would not believe.

I cannot imagine how disappointed Mary must have been. Here she had the most wonderful news in the history of the world. And Jesus’ closest followers didn’t believe her or her news. Jesus himself had told them what was going to happen. And when it happened, they didn’t believe.

It’s easy to dump all over those first century so-called followers of Jesus. After all, they aren’t as well educated as us. They aren’t as sophisticated as us. They aren’t as smart as us. And yet, we’re just as guilty of disbelief as they are.

Now I want to give them a break just like you do. We want to be kind and gracious to them. After all, Mary saw Jesus. Mary spoke to Jesus. Mary touched Jesus[1]. And they didn’t.

You and I are in the same position as those disciples who were hiding. They hadn’t seen the resurrected Jesus. And neither have we. They heard the story from an eyewitness. And so have we.

We have the recorded words of people that actually saw Jesus. They didn’t fool around with the facts. They didn’t enhance or exaggerate what they wrote.

With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:3,4

And why did they go to all the trouble of investigating and writing it down? That we can be certain about the things of Jesus. They are reliable. We can securely build our lives on them. Or, as one writer put it, we can bet our eternal lives on it and not worry about it.

With all the evidence about Jesus from people who personally knew him, what’s holding us back? With the absolute, unquestionable reliability of their words, why won’t we believe?

The answer is really quite simple. We don’t want to give up power. We don’t want someone else calling the shots. We don’t want someone else in control. We want to be “the master of my fate” and “the captain of my soul[2].

But that’s the opposite of true freedom. When we control life, we’re held prisoners of our own weakness and selfishness. When we purposefully turn life over to God, where he’s in control, we receive his power. His peace. His purpose.

So, why are we hanging on to ourselves and our weakness? Why not fully believe the two words, he’s risen? They change everything.

[1] John 20:15-17 [2] Invictus, William Ernest Henley


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