Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. (John 20:1 NIV)
I was looking today at some photographs from the end of World War II. You have probably seen some of these photos. One of the most famous is a picture of a sailor kissing a young lady on the street, but I also viewed pictures of celebrations in the street, people climbing onto signs, and strangers embracing each other. People were so excited because the war had brought such suffering and death to so many people all around the world, and it had finally ended. The war was over! The Allies had won! Hitler was dead and gone, and the Japanese had finally surrendered!
The joy of that day is all the stronger because of the darkness that had preceded it, and again, there are many photographs that tell that story. When you look at photos of fallen soldiers, bombed out cities, and the horrible suffering of prisoners, they paint a very dark picture. Celebration came naturally because the war was finally over, the forces of evil had been defeated, and a new day was on the horizon!
The joy that springs from the resurrection of Jesus is like this but even greater. Mary Magdalene approached the tomb of Jesus, and it was still dark. What a great metaphor that was! She was walking in the darkness of the shadow of death. It appeared that the forces of darkness had won, that evil and sorrow and death were all that were left. Jesus had been crucified, He had died, and He had been buried. Yes, it must have seemed very dark to Mary.
But a new morning was coming! In just a few minutes, Mary would be reconnected to the resurrected and living Savior. The darkness would be dispelled and replaced by light! Her sorrow and sadness would be replaced by joy and celebration! Jesus had defeated death! He was alive! Mary would never be the same!
There is great hope for us in the resurrection of Jesus, and sometimes it seems we forget this. We see all too easily the darkness of our world in the news. We are all too aware of our failures and shortcomings when we make mistakes. As we age we begin to realize more clearly that our bodies are winding down and death is a certainty for us at some point.
But the resurrection of Jesus means that we can live in confident hope, no matter what the circumstances might be. The world may be dark, but the risen Jesus is the Light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome. We may fail and do hurtful things to others from time to time, but the risen Savior has already paid for those sins and we live each day in His favor. While we do age and we do physically die, Jesus will raise us from the dead and give us new bodies that will never wear out.
The resurrection of Jesus was a new beginning for Mary, and it is for us also. Be confident in the Lord Jesus! Trust in His goodness and life! Live in the hope of the resurrection every day!