Parallel Texts: Matthew 28:1-8; Luke 24:1-8, 12; John 20:1-10
When Jesus was born in that manger in Bethlehem nobody would have noticed, but God sent choruses of angels out to the fields and they were seen by the shepherds… and there was this star in the sky. When Jesus rose from the grave, there were no choirs to be seen, no great star lighting the sky, just chirping crickets and the sounds of the night.
Thus came the Kingdom.
John the Baptist prepared the way teaching the people that the Kingdom was at hand. Jesus preached the Kingdom far and wide and demonstrated its power as He went along, but when all of the work was finally completed, nobody knew about it at first. Shortly after sunrise on that fateful day at the very precipice of human history, a group f very faithful women arrive at the tomb to finish the dressing of the body, only to discover that there was no body for them to dress; He had risen!
I can’t help but recall these two verses:
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!”
Guess what boys? The temple was destroyed and He has risen it up again, just like He said, for as we know He was referring to the temple of His body. As for the physical temple building, now obsolete and useless? Well, the clock is ticking on its demise…
God wasn’t quite ready for the big announcement just yet, or more to the point, Peter and the others who would be the ones announcing the arrival of the Kingdom weren’t quite ready, but in 5 weeks, they would make a splash in Jerusalem.
In spite of the lack of fanfare, the day that Jesus rose from the grave was a glorious day, the most glorious of all days, but God’s glory is not like Man’s glory. There were no bands playing, no trumpets sounding, no parades or banners, no wall-to-wall coverage, no newspaper headlines and no ceremonies. Just an empty tomb and a messenger to tell the women that Jesus had risen: Low-key and reserved. John recalls that Mary saw Him, and thought He was the gardener. Obviously the artists have the scene wrong, no brightly shining white robes; a gardener to all appearances was He.
To this day, the world cannot handle this reality.
Why didn’t God do something far more dramatic to get people’s attention? He could have done that, since He was raising Jesus from the grave, a little fireworks would have been no big deal, and then He would have proven that Jesus returned from the dead. Just think of the sensation if the risen Christ would have entered Jerusalem now; who would oppose Him? Why, He could have walked into Pilate’s quarters and sent him and all of the Romans packing… He could have set up his Kingdom as an earthly one right then and there if that is what He intended, but He didn’t. Don’t forget that Jesus Himself had once remarked that even if someone died and rose again people wouldn’t believe the message. Most people still don’t.
God never wanted His followers to be robots; if He had wanted that, don’t you think He could have made Adam a robot without free will in the first place… and saved Himself a lot of trouble?
He never wanted robots for followers; He wants people who are willing to choose to follow Him, and this tremendous level of restraint is one of the reasons He is worth following!