Ray Rooney, Jr.: A Different Thought On Easter
Monday, April 21, 2014 2:10 PM

Even when it comes to something as righteous and holy as serving God we just can’t help ourselves.  We’re humans and it’s in our nature.  We serve to gain.  There’s got to be some kind of reward or payoff or we’re not interested.  How do I know we all serve to gain?  How many of us are willing to serve God anonymously or behind the scenes?  It seems to me we can’t help but tell people when, how, where, and why we serve God.  Somebody ought to know how dedicated, faithful, and sacrificial we are, right? 

But then on Easter morning we are confronted with Mary Magdalene.  Clearly, in John’s Gospel next to Jesus he wanted the focus on Mary that morning (John 20:1-18).  Paraphrasing, here is the story as John relates it.  Mary goes to the tomb of Christ while it is still dark to finish the task of properly anointing the body for burial since the arrival of the Sabbath cut that task short on Friday.  Finding the tomb empty she runs to the Apostles to tell them.  Peter and John go to the graveyard to see what she is talking about.  Empty.  They leave and go back home.  Mary steps back into the tomb and is greeted by two angels. Upon turning around she sees a third man and assumes he is the gardener.  When He speaks her name she recognizes Him as Jesus.  He tells her to go back and tell His disciples that He will soon be ascending.  She does.

There are a couple of things about Mary that really put most of us to shame.  To begin with, she comes to the tomb in the dark.  No one will see her and pontificate on her faith, love, and devotion to Jesus.  Second, there is going to be no reward on the table if she is able to fulfill her task (anointing the body with spices).  In her mind, Jesus is dead.  In other words, Mary Magdalene comes in the darkness to perform one last act of ministry to a dead Messiah!  Obviously, she is motivated by love and devotion.  Would to God that was our motivation as we serve Him today.

We sing, “I Serve a Risen Savior.”  Mary goes to serve a dead Messiah.  Do we serve a risen Savior because He’s alive to grant all our requests, recognize all our good deeds, and acknowledge before others all our many sacrifices on His behalf?  Mary goes to serve Jesus in death. 

After the Apostles leave the tomb and go home John says she stood outside weeping.  Do you know why she was weeping?  It wasn’t because her hopes and dreams for a restored Israel were shattered.  It wasn’t because she mourned the loss of the One who had delivered her from seven demons.  And it wasn’t because she realized that without Jesus around she would be forced back into obscurity, despair, and maybe even sin.  No, Mary Magdalene wept outside the tomb of Jesus because someone had robbed her of her last chance to directly serve Him (or so she thought).  Even when she mistook Jesus for the gardener she said, “tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  She wants to personally retrieve and return the body of Jesus to the tomb.  By herself. 

Here is a woman who was convinced Jesus was dead but still believed her calling was to serve Him.  Where, then, are all the tears for all the wasted and ignored opportunities that the Church has had for centuries to minister to A RISEN SAVIOR?!  Mary was sure He was dead and still wanted to minister to Him.  We are sure He is alive…and don’t have the time?

Don’t miss the irony in John’s story of Resurrection.  Two of the elite three Apostles come to the tomb to look.  They see nothing and go home.  Yet the woman who came to secretly minister steps into the same tomb probably just minutes after the Apostles left, and sees two angels and ultimately Jesus Himself!  Observe equals nothing.  Minister equals everything. 

Don’t we know why Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”?  Because that’s where God is and where He is is the opportunity to minister.  What this really all boils down to is this: does God exist to bless me or do I exist to minister to Him?  If I exist to minister to Him I will find a way, like Mary.  If He exists to bless me and it appears He’s not around…we may as well go home like Peter and John did. 

Serve God not because “He lives” and will reward you for it.  Serve Him because “you live” and that is what you are created for.


Ray Rooney, Jr.