Going Away Empty-hearted: Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
Maybe there are people like that here today. You want to believe, but there’s just too much history. You’ve got too much pain – you think you are a worse sinner than anyone else, and so you have refused to respond to the pleading of Jesus to accept His love. It’s just too difficult to believe that Jesus’ resurrection could wipe away all that pain. Let me tell you something. Jesus can forgive, and Jesus can heal.
Peter went in and examined the evidence for himself. He saw the linen that had wrapped his body and the piece of cloth that had been around His head. It was enough to prove that SOMETHING had happened there. But it wasn’t enough to prove that Jesus was alive. Another account of this event in the book of Luke says that Peter was “wondering to himself what had happened”. (Lk 24:12) He was a skeptic. He needed more evidence.
Then Peter did one of the most foolish things of his whole life. Look at vs. 10: Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. He left; something as important as that, and he left without even coming to a conclusion as to what had happened. If Peter had hung around just a little while longer, he would have gotten to experience the same miracle that Mary is getting ready to see. There wasn’t enough evidence because he didn’t hang around long enough.
Too many people don’t have enough evidence to place their faith in Jesus because of the simple reason that they don’t hang around long enough. They don’t read God’s Word enough. They don’t spend enough time around God’s people. They don’t spend enough time in prayer. They get up off their knees, or they walk out of the door of the church just before the miracle happens, and they miss it. They aren’t present to see the miracle of God’s life-changing power. Don’t leave until you see a miracle. Peter walked away from that empty tomb with his heart still broken.
MARY, THE BROKEN-HEARTED
Then, there was Mary Magdalene. When Peter and John left, she stayed.
11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
The angel asked a good question: “Why are you crying?” Back over in verse 1, it says that the women including Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while “it was still dark”. That not only talks about the fact that the sun hadn’t risen yet. It talks about the condition of their hearts. It was the deepest darkest time of their lives.
Mary was depressed. Psychologists will tell you that depression comes when you have lost something of value to you; the more valuable the person or thing that you lose, the deeper the depression. Mary had lost that which was more valuable to her than anything else – she had lost Jesus. That meant a lot to her.
To her, Jesus meant…”Release”―When she had met Jesus, she was enslaved by 7 demons. Jesus had cast the demons out. Jesus had freed her.
And Jesus meant “Peace”―You who are parents know what it’s like to have several different little people pulling on you at the same time, all trying to get your attention to do something for them. Imagine having seven demons living inside your head constantly steering you in directions that you do not want to go. When Jesus had released her, she had found a peace that she had never known.
Jesus also meant “Forgiveness “―Not only had Jesus released her from her demons, he had released her from her sin. He had forgiven her for all those actions that had allowed the demons to inhabit her to begin with.
And Jesus had given her Someone to believe in―When Jesus was alive, Mary had been a part of a group of women who financially supported His ministry. She had believed in what He was doing. Everyone needs someone to believe in.
And Jesus had provided her “Leadership”―She was lost without Jesus. She had given her life to Jesus. His life had given hers meaning. Now that He was gone, she was like a lost puppy dog not knowing what to do or what to believe in. She thought that all that was gone, so she cried…she wept. But then a miracle happened. The Bible says:
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord,…
Seeing the Lord – that’s what Mary wanted more than anything else, and she wanted it more than anyone else did. She wanted to see Him so bad that she didn’t allow the foul-mouthed comments or threats that the soldiers made at the foot of the cross to push her away. She wanted to see Him so badly that even though His face was covered in blood and His body was mangled from torture, she did not turn away in disgust. She wanted to see Him so badly that when His body was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb by Joseph, she stayed. And then, when the tomb was sealed with the stone rolled to the entrance, she sat outside the tomb…watching. The only thing that could pull her away was the Sabbath. But as soon as the Sabbath was over, she was back at Jesus’ side again. Mary wanted to see Jesus. Mary got her desire. She said, “I have seen the Lord.”
Everyone here is like one of these three witnesses to the empty tomb. All three of them had been told what had happened that day – Mary had been told by the angels, and Peter and John had been told by the other women. All three saw the same tomb and examined the same evidence, and all three had different reactions.
Many of you are like John. You see the empty tomb and you believe. Jesus says that you are blessed. Rejoice that Jesus is alive. It means that you will live with Him for all eternity.
Some of you are like Peter. You see the empty tomb and you don’t know what to believe. There’s something going on, but you don’t know what. You say, “I don’t understand all this religion stuff. I don’t understand why people would willingly get up every Sunday morning, give up their sleep and free time and come to church.” There is only one way that you will ever understand. Stick around. Don’t just come on Easter or Christmas. Come back again and again until you see the miracle of your own life changed. Stay a long time at the foot of the cross. Stay a long time at the empty tomb.
And then some of you are like Mary.
You see the empty tomb, you see the change in people’s lives and you think that there has got to be some practical explanation of what has happened. Mary didn’t believe either. But she hung around long enough to have her questions answered and her faith grow. Maybe that’s you. Either you’re not quite sure about what happened on that day, or more likely, you’re not sure how what happened on that day impacts your life on this day. You ask, “What does it all mean? Or, what does it all mean to me?” Since Jesus is alive, Jesus can be to you all those things that Mary thought she had lost – release, peace, forgiveness, a sense of purpose and leadership.
Maybe you’re ready to believe in Jesus today. Maybe you have had your prayers answered, and today, like Mary, you have seen Jesus. If that’s you, then tell me that you are ready to take Jesus as your Savior, and I’ll take the Bible and show you how. But if you’re not ready to believe today, at least do this…hang around. Come back next Sunday, and the next, and the next. Come back until you see Jesus. Don’t be like Peter who went away with his heart still empty. Don’t say “no” to Jesus’ pleas for you to receive His forgiveness.