ODJ: Only the Beginning

February 18, 2017 

READ: John 20:11-18 

I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God (v.17).

We introduced our sons to the TV series Lost in which marooned passengers from a crashed jetliner try to survive on a mysterious island. It didn’t take long for our boys to start to groan at the end of each episode, aware of how masterful the writers were at creating cliffhangers. There appears to be no ending, only a series of new beginnings.

In John’s telling of Jesus’ resurrection, he reveals that this is not the end of a story but rather a fresh beginning of a story (John 20:11-18). Jesus’ resurrection didn’t merely conclude His earthly ministry, it provided resounding assurance that He is Lord of the world (v.18; Acts 5:30-31). The resurrection signaled not only that the God-man rose from death but also that—through Jesus—the whole of creation would be set free from death of every kind (Romans 8:20-21).

When the risen Jesus revealed Himself to Mary in the garden, she was overjoyed. Bewildered and elated, she must have held on to her Teacher as if she would never let go. “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father” (John 20:17). Jesus instructed Mary to go tell the disciples that He was alive—and that He would only be with them for a little longer (v.17). He returned to the Father because there, enthroned at God’s right hand, He rules over the world, offering healing and salvation, securing and completing the redemption already begun (Ephesians 1:20).

Whatever sorrows we know, whatever heartaches we find in our family or our friendships, whatever failures we’ve amassed, wherever we feel broken or useless— know this: We’re experiencing only the beginning of the story. Jesus rose from the dead, and the story of new life and new possibility has only begun.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: Numbers 12:1-16

Take ten minutes and make a list of a few of the places, relationships, and issues in your life in need of God’s redemption and resurrection. How can you pray for God to write a new story there? How does Revelation 21:5 encourage you? 
How does it alter the way you see your life to think that what you experience now is the beginning (not the end) of God’s story? What hope has God brought you today?