We all, like Mary, Start in the Dark (John 20:2)

John 20:2  

Mary, still literally in the dark, sees the stone taken away from the tomb where her beloved friend was laid. Given the low sunlight – the sun had probably just cracked the horizon – she probably could not see into his cave-like tomb. She assumes, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb…” (John 20:1)  

Mary’s assumption was reasonable enough. Imagine you were at a cemetery walking up to the grave of your loved one. You see a pile of dirt next to a hole where you know your loved one was laid to rest, but you have not yet moved close enough to peer in. What might you assume? You might assume someone took the body. Mary did. She did not know better.  

The darkness, in John’s Gospel, signifies something more than the early hour. We all, like Mary, start in the dark. We all, like Mary, start with assumptions about who this Jesus really is. In John’s gospel, people have been making all sorts of assumptions about Jesus. Some called him “the Prophet (John 6:14).” Others called him the Christ without yet knowing what that title meant (for example, John 7:31). Still others said he had a demon or was insane (John 10:20).  

Even today, people will fill the empty tomb with all sorts of meaning. An article titled, “Our Many Jesus,” appeared in the Wall Street Journal just before last Easter. Underneath the title were the words, “At a time of shrinking church membership, Jesus remains a uniquely powerful and popular figure in American culture. The great divide is over what he stands for.” The remainder of the article basically described how different people have tried to champion Jesus to their cause. Toward the end of the article the well-known sociologist Christian Smith observed that all these rival versions of Jesus have one thing in common. They all result from the subjectivistic, relativistic, pluralistic culture of our time. People simply choose whichever version of Jesus appeals to them.  

Back then too people who were encountering Jesus for the first time tried to neatly fit him into their category, but their categories simply could not hold him.  

We, all, like Mary, must first come to the tomb, in the dark. If we have an emerging faith, like Mary certainly did, we will not stay there but move further in. We need to learn to take him as he has revealed himself in his Word, seeking him not as we want him but as he truly is.

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