John 20:1-18; 2 Chronicles 31; Psalm 87
I was talking to my pastor about my fiction writing, and he asked me if my stories had a twist. “I always love it when a story has a good twist at the end.” I gulped, and then agreed with him about how great those twists were. You know what I mean by a twist, right? The two partners have fought the red tape from the police department while solving crimes and they finally get ready to take down the head guy, only one of the partners finds out that the other one is the leader of the criminal gang. Or how about this kind of ending? The crew is tracking down the murderer only to discover that the murderer is really the person they thought was the first victim, who didn’t really die. Of course, if you see either of those at a theater with friends, there’s always bound to be that one guy who smugly says, “I knew it all along. It was obvious.”
Those twist endings. They make a book, or a movie enjoyable. There are always those guys who claim to know it after the fact. Sometimes, though, onlookers say or do things that help you know that they know the twist that’s coming. For instance, after Jesus was crucified, the Chief Priest and the Pharisees wanted a guard put on the tomb because they remembered Jesus teaching that He would rise from the dead. They didn’t expect it, but they were afraid the disciples might try to steal the body. (Matthew 27:62ff) The disciples, even though they heard the message time and time again, never expected the resurrection. They were caught completely off guard. “He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).”
Mary literally twisted back and forth looking at the tomb and this guy she presumed to be the gardener until Jesus revealed Himself to her. This was the ultimate plot twist, and it was real. She had seen Jesus on the cross. Perhaps she averted her eyes when the soldier put the spear in His side, but there was no doubt in anyone’s mind. Jesus had been killed. The execution was successful. He was dead. Joseph and Nicodemus had put Him in the tomb and Mary was going to finish the job of anointing His body. When she didn’t see the body and she ran back to tell the others, they didn’t believe her. John outpaced Peter and in an interesting phrasing, noted that he believed, but still didn’t understand that Jesus had risen from the dead. He looked in and believed the body was gone, not trusting a hysterical woman’s report, but he couldn’t figure out where the dead body was. Jesus waited until the men had left before revealing Himself to Mary and even then, she had trouble believing at first. The resurrection of Jesus was the twist that all of His disciples should have seen coming, but didn’t.
What’s even crazier, is that we are living on the other side of that twist. Once the disciples were convinced of the resurrection, they shouted it from the mountain tops. We, having lived with knowledge that the twist happened, often take a calm blasé attitude about it. It’s no big deal, to us, and perhaps we shake our head wondering why others don’t believe it like we do. This is the most freaking, awesome news in the world! God came down to earth, He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and He conquered death by rising again – giving everyone hope of eternal life! We may tell a friend about it. If they ask. And no one else can hear. It’s time to do the twist, to live the twist, and to tell the twist. Jesus is alive! Jesus died for my sins, and your sins, because He wants to forgive us. Trust Him today!
Lord, what an amazing story, proven true by history. Get me excited to share Your love and grace with others.