Last week, a village paster asked me to preach in his church about 30 minutes out. I had prepared an Easter resurrection message from John 20 and 21 for our sister churches in Sibiu and Cisnadie. I had been looking forward to this occasion for it would be my first occasion to preach and worship with this congregation. But, Saturday, I received a call informing me that a church member had just lost her 17 year old son after suffering injuries from a tragic car accident. Could I reflect hope somehow in my message even through the experience of loss?
My heart hurt for this mom who was in mourning. I could illustrate the pain and sorrow Mary Magdalene felt in the death of a loved one where John records that "Mary stood weeping…"(v. 11). I could describe the effects of grief on our lives in ways the disciples were frozen in their room from fear (v.19). Or how Thomas was at such a point of loss, that he could not believe the news from his most trusted friends, which would dramatically turn his grief into the greatest joy of his earthly life (v. 25).
The response of Jesus in each of these contacts has a kingdom focus at heart. To Mary he says go tell my brothers, to the disciples on that first evening of the resurrection day, he anchors their mind on being sent ones. To Thomas who had just physically touched his risen "Lord and God", he reminds him about the hope of ones who haven't seen the Christ. He initially had charged Peter to be a "fisher of men" and now gently reminds him of his pastoral ministry (feed my sheep)and even how his death as a martyr would "glorify God" (21:19). We may find these testimonies comforting, but for sure they were "written that you may believe … and find life in his name." (20:31).
While standing with this mom next to her son's lifeless body, I read from Psalms 23 and prayed for the life changing peace that Christ offered to Mary Magdalen and the disciples at their lowest moment. Please pray with us and the small congregation of believers, that God would show his glory to this family and village.
By His grace,