Were you there when God raised him from the tomb? Were you there when God raised him from the tomb? Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

African-American spiritual

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Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

John 20:11-18

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On the first Easter, Mary is weeping. She is consumed by grief because Jesus has died and she believes his body has been stolen. She is so consumed by sadness that she cannot see Jesus standing next to her. Then she really sees him, and her sorrow turns to joy.

On this Easter morning, do you have a significant grief in your life? Are you overcome by uncertainty or fear? If so, hear the good news that Jesus is alive and is ready to comfort you and walk with you through challenging days. You are not alone.

The year after I graduated from college, I arrived at church on Easter Sunday consumed by grief. My grandmother had died earlier that Holy Week, and we held her funeral on Good Friday. As the organ began the opening hymn, I had a clear sense that Jesus was standing near me, that I was not alone, and that my grandmother was secure in his love. Though I came in grief, I sang with joy and hope.

Christ our Lord is risen today! Alleluia!

Paul Baxley

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Lord Jesus, on this Easter morning help me know you are alive and with me so that I can live in confidence, joy, and hope. Amen.

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Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts in “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (1707)

Paul Baxley

Paul Baxley is the executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Sunshine on My Face

John Morton

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