Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Salome were up early. They hadn’t slept much anyway the past two nights–not after Friday when their beloved Jesus, incomprehensibly, had been disgraced and tortured to death on a Roman cross. Like a criminal. Like a curse. A mix of love and horror glued them to the scene, and now the image was burnt in their minds like a nightmare from which they couldn’t wake. Dreams were dead; hope was gone.
Since the Sabbath was over, they bought spices to at least provide Jesus’ body some of the dignity it deserved. Mary was going to caress the face of her oldest son one more time, even in death. It was a sad walk to a sad place.
Then the unimaginable. Mark 16 tells the story quickly: they arrive to find the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, and an angel seated where Jesus’ body should have been. Their hearts stopped. Was this to be tragedy upon tragedy? Were they hallucinating? Could their broken hearts dare open to a tiny beam of hope?
Unlike them, the angel was not speechless. He told them that Jesus had risen. See, he’s not here. You can go tell the other guys that he’s headed to Galilee and they can find him there “just as he told you.” I mean, Jesus did tell you this, right? Why are you all so surprised?
Just as he told you.
I wonder if that will be the welcome banner flying over the gates of heaven, or sadly, the sign taped to the door of hell. Will that phrase be on the lips of the angels and the saints as we wander, wide-eyed, into glory? As we realize, from the other side, that God did indeed orchestrate all the mysterious events of our lives to culminate in mesmerizing beauty, will that refrain be running through our minds?
Jesus told his followers a lot of things and promised that they would all come to pass. He told us through his Word that:
- He will come again and take us to himself (John 14:3).
- He will somehow work all the events of his followers’ lives for good (Romans 8:28).
- Our labors for him, however exhausting, are not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
- He will supply every need we have (Philippians 4:19).
- If we believe in him, though we die, we will amazingly still live (John 11:25).
- If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us (1 John 5:14)
- One day, he will lovingly wipe every tear from our eyes, and death, mourning, crying, and pain will be gone forever (Revelation 21:4).
These are not insignificant promises. Each is life-changing. Now, all we need to do is believe them.
When Jesus hung lifeless and broken on a cross for the whole city to scorn, the hearts of Mary, Mary, and Salome were probably not coursing with faith. When they walked in heavy silence to the tomb, the three women were not expecting resurrection or they wouldn’t have “fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them” (Mark 16:8). Like us, their circumstances shaped their expectations. Like us, their emotions warned them not to get their hopes up. Like us, they believed what they saw in front of them more than they believed Jesus’ words.
And here’s the best one of all: Like us, they were astonished and undone by the glorious reality of Jesus’ fulfilled promises.
One day, all the words you dared to believe from the God-breathed Scriptures will truly and physically come to pass. It will be “just as he told you.” Like those women, you will most likely be seized with trembling and astonishment, but soon, as the reality sinks in, you will see him, and know that it was all true, and that moment of laughter and love and freedom and relief will overshadow the darkest moments in your life a thousandfold. Just as he told you.