There are two pivotal passages in John’s Gospel concerning the resurrection of Christ that call us to deeper faith and portray two obstacles to our growing in faith in Jesus and trusting in him – acknowledging our sin and doubt and asking for an increase in faith. The first passage is John 20:11–18:
But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her.
Mary was a follower of Jesus, and her life had been transformed by her discipleship. Jesus had recognized in her a hunger and thirst for real love, and he offers that, which changes her life. She becomes a true disciple of the Lord. If he is now dead (as she believes), she wants, in her excess of devotion, to carry away his body and prepare it properly for burial. Her love is expressed in concrete action. Jesus sees her genuine grief that the only one who ever truly loved her is now dead … and he reveals himself by calling her name. She recognizes the voice of the one who loves and accepts his call to go and announce the Good News.
Mary Magdalene found faith in Christ, a living dynamic faith that changed her life. This is available to you also. In order to be a true disciple, acknowledge your sin and chains will fall from your soul, regardless of how “old” the sin is or how “new” the offense. God always forgives those who come to him with true sorrow. Ask forgiveness for your wrongdoing and experience how personal God’s love is for you. The second passage comes a couple of chapters later in the Gospel of John (20:24-25):
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the nail marks, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.
Another obstacle that we must overcome is doubt.Thomas is a doubter, like most of us. We have been so trained in life to follow the directions of our senses. What we see, hear, touch, taste and smell show us what is real. Everything else, we declare, “is just someone’s opinion. If you want me to believe (whatever it is) you’ve got to show me.” Jesus knew that, so he showed his wounds to Thomas in a way that Thomas was forced to acknowledge the reality. And Thomas did so in a marvelous testimony of faith: “My Lord and my God!” Jesus gave him that proof in an overwhelming act of mercy so that we, too, might believe.
Though the Year of Faith has ended, God’s mercy never ends. When you find yourself doubting the words of Scripture – the teachings of Jesus – acknowledge that doubt to the Lord and ask him to impart faith or increase faith. Admit your sin. The grace of the resurrection is available to you now. Please open your heart that the burden may be lifted and the joy of the resurrection may grow in your heart and soul.
Sister Ann Shields is a renowned author and a member of the Servants of God’s Love. Questions can be addressed to Sister Ann Shields, Renewal Ministries, 230 Collingwood, Suite 240, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.
You can order her new book, More of the Holy Spirit, for $12 at www.renewalministries.net.