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Lesson 6: Holy Week

Love’s redeeming work is done; fought the fight, the battle won. Death in vain forbids him rise; Christ has opened paradise. Alleluia!

– Charles Wesley

Devotion: Read John 20:1-18. The resurrection of Jesus is not like the resuscitation of Lazarus or the widow’s son (Jn 11; Lk 7:11-17). They will face the grave again. Jesus conquers death. Jesus’ victory— incarnation, embodiment of God’s reign on earth, sinless life, an obedient death—is actually achieved on Friday. But sadly, the world is unaware of the victory at that time! The resurrection is God’s proclamation to the world that Jesus is Sovereign of all creation! The news of Jesus’ triumph spreads through encounters with the living Christ and witnesses who have experienced that presence. Soon the good news will be spread by the power of the promised Holy Spirit (Jn 14:15-26). In this reading, Mary teaches us the importance of sharing this news. Resurrection has taken place; Jesus is already victorious, but Mary is still in the misery of grief. The power of resurrection becomes activated in her life when she recognizes the risen Christ in her midst. And so it is for us as well. When the Word of God is experienced through the presence of the Holy Spirit, the power of Jesus’ victory is available to us. Our response to resurrection matters. Whether you have heard this story once or a thousand times, how do you respond to it today?  

Personal Worship Option: Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. Jesus’ resurrection changes everything. The world has been turned upside down. We now know death is not all-powerful. Jesus is more powerful than all earthly rulers and nations. God invites us to follow the risen Christ. Spend time in prayer, aware of the Spirit, receiving the resurrection word Jesus has for you today.

Dig A Little Deeper:

Read the other gospel accounts: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; and Luke 24:1-12. None of these describe the resurrection itself since none witness it. Each writer tailors his account to the community to whom he writes, using the sources he has. How does each account contribute to the Church’s celebration of resurrection?

20:1 Although John names only Mary Magdalene, the “we” (20:2) assumes other companions.

20:2 The disciple “Jesus loved” is assumed to be John, the gospel writer himself (18:15).

20:5 The presence of the linen wrappings indicate the body has not been stolen. Although unspoken, the events which follow suggest Jesus has passed through them (20:19, 26). We are not told what kind of body he has is resurrection, but these passages presume he is both fully physical (20:27) and fully spiritual. In resurrection, Jesus displays the restoration and fulfillment of humanity’s two natures which now work in harmony.

20:8 “Believed” refers to their belief in Mary’s report the body is gone rather than belief that Jesus is risen, since they did not yet understand (20:9) and they return to their homes without any hint of excitement (20:10).

20:14 Jesus’ appearance has changed in such a way that people do not immediately recognize him but can tell it is him when he desires (Jn 21:12; Lk 24:13-35). None of the gospels give details about his new appearance.

20:17 “Do not hold onto me, for I have not “ascended” is interpreted two ways. Some believe this is Jesus’ way of saying that old relationships (where she would embrace him) are no more. He is now fully Sovereign and will be glorified. Others point out that since Jesus invites Thomas to touch him (20:27) the possibility exists that Jesus ascends over the course of the week. This invites speculation but no agreement about the possibility of Jesus ascending several times, with the one often labeled “the ascension” being the final time (Acts 1:6-11).

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