Some of the most heartwarming videos you can find online are when military servicemen and women return from deployment. There is usually a hidden camera somewhere designed to capture the expression of a loved family member. The serviceperson returns home unexpectedly still wearing their uniform and the family member suddenly sees them. There is a moment of great joy and sometimes tears are shed as hugs are given and expressions of joy are made.
One can only imagine what it was like for Jesus’ followers to see the resurrected Christ. Seeing Jesus alive again must have taken their breath away. There was probably a mixture of shock, joy, and hope as the one they loved was back with them once again. But when Jesus came back from the dead, Jesus taught that it wasn’t just good news that he was back. He also told his followers that our status with God the Father has changed as well.
Mary, who was perhaps the one most sensitive and attuned to the Savior’s situation, stayed at the tomb after the women went back to tell the Apostles that Jesus’ body wasn’t in the tomb. In tears and in confusion, she assumed that the body of Jesus was stolen. In tears she turned from the angels talking to her and heard another voice as her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” “It must be the gardener”, she thought. Who else could it be? In desperation, she asks him if he carried the body away. “Tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” But the voice says to her, “Mary.”
There was something familiar about that voice. She heard it before. Looking up, it took a few moments for her mind to comprehend who she was seeing. But, no it can’t be. It is! “Rabboni!” she exclaimed. We’re not told what happened, but perhaps out of joy she wanted to hug him or hold on to him. But Jesus said, “do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” But Jesus had an important task for her to do. She had to tell the disciples the following message: “Go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.”
This line uses the language of family. Jesus calls his followers, “brothers”. He is ascending to, “my Father and your Father,” and, “my God and your God.” Jesus was telling us something about our relationship with God. God the Father is our Father. Jesus is our brother. Hebrews 2:11 tells us, “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source, that is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers.”
How is it a comfort for you to know that Jesus is your brother and that God is now your Father? For some of us, we might not have a great relationship with our siblings or our Father. It might be helpful to consider other types of relationships. If there is a stranger or a someone you don’t know passing you on the street, you expect too much from that person. Or perhaps you are a customer visiting a business. You would expect a waiter or a service representative to help you, but only to a certain extent. You wouldn’t expect them to be at your hospital bed in an emergency. But what would a good older brother be like? We can expect an older brother to help and protect you. They would defend you and teach you. They would help you when you do something wrong and be loyal. Similarly, a Father would care for their children. He would protect, provide and lead you in the things of life.
There’s a reason why Jesus chose these words when he saw Mary. The intimacy that God desires for us has been accomplished by Jesus. He chose the language of family so that we can understand that Christ, our brother, has made us right again before the Father.
Questions for Meditation:
- Consider a time where you saw someone you loved after being separated for a long time. How was the experience?
- How does it comfort you knowing that God desires to be your Father and Christ your brother?
- Do you ever doubt God’s care for you? How does remembering the cross help you?