Hunting for Resurrection Hope

When I encounter wickedness and corruption in the world, I find that I most identify with Mary Magdalene in John chapter 20.

“I am concerned by the state of the world.”  I understand the sentiment; we are facing tumultuous and tragic events.  I don’t know about you, but I can feel the ugliness of this moment emanating from our news feeds and pulsating from our social media accounts.  It is pervasive and tangible as shootings, wars, and racial violence form the backdrop of our times. We shouldn’t be concerned, like I shouldn’t just be concerned if the rash I am scratching is cancer, or if my backyard is a radioactive minefield. We should be angry, distraught, and broken.

As terrible as this moment is, it is not new.  Evil has always seemed to flourish. History is a long succession of human depravity, injustice, violence and oppression.  When I encounter wickedness and corruption in the world, I find that I most identify with Mary Magdalene in John chapter 20 as she stands outside the tomb.  She was facing the last straw of evil—her Messiah who had been falsely accused, betrayed by a corrupt government, ridiculed, tortured, shamed, and then left to die an agonizing death, had now faced the last indignity: “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:13b). She is convinced that her enemies have thwarted her attempt to at least bury Jesus’ body with decency.

I do not hear simple concern in her voice.  I hear grief, confusion, and pent-up anger. Knowing who awaits her, it’s easy to rush past this verse, but when we do that, we miss the fragility and vulnerability of Mary—a single woman crushed by the powers, both worldly and other-worldly, that win every time. This is not how it is supposed to be!

At this moment, Mary is on a precipice, and if she is not careful, will miss the greatest moment in history, let alone her life.  This is the moment that reverses everything.  The most ridiculous, outlandish turn of events.  The corrupt religious leaders, the evil empire, death itself are all defeated (1 Corinthians 15:54b-55).

Our problem today is that we only tell this story once a year. We look back at the resurrection as a past miracle and a down payment on our future hope. But that vision is far too narrow, our imagination too limited! We do not just have a resurrected savior who will one day resurrect us, we are resurrection people: “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

The key word is now in this passage. Resurrection is present. This is why I must die to myself, so that I may live; why I serve (die for others), so they can flourish; why I mourn with those who weep, so they will be comforted; why I love my enemy and turn the other cheek, so they receive mercy.

This doesn’t mean we become masochists, welcoming pain and death, accepting the brutality of the world; we should do everything in our power to repel evil and shine light in the darkness.  But we shouldn’t stop there. We should also be on the hunt for resurrection.  Like Mary, we may have a difficult time seeing it at first as we look in the wrong direction (John 20:14) or it is obscured through our tears (John 20:15), but resurrection is there in the glorious sunshine of a new day if we can only hear Jesus’ voice calling to us (John 20:16).

So let’s not just be concerned. When we encounter the desolation of a fallen world, let’s deepen our sympathy as we grieve, ache, and wail with those run over by the evil in this world and look for resurrection because death will never again get the last word.