Have you ever noticed how under educated Mary Magdelene and the disciples were immediately following the resurrection? Yet, similarly, have you ever noticed how full of joy they were? Stay with me. Consider how John describes these people on the first Easter morning:
First, Jesus had to tell Mary not to hold on to him when she finally realized who he was in the garden.
Second, when the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus, John says they were “overjoyed” when they saw him.
This reveals something we need to lean into. Mary Magdelene could not contain her emotions and ran to embrace Jesus three days after his death. Likewise, the disciples – when they saw him – were beyond joy. John also tells his readers that they did not yet understand the implications of the resurrection. No post-resurrection theological education. No books. No Sunday School classes. No seminary professors. No systematic theology lectures. Figuring out what the resurrection meant would come. But it would come later.
This begs a question: “If they didn’t yet grasp the weight of Jesus rising from the dead, why were they overcome with joy?”
Because they had their friend back.
They had the one they loved and treasured being with, again. Apparently, Mary and the disciples didn’t love realities about Jesus. They actually loved him. They didn’t love doctrines about Jesus. They loved Jesus, the person. They missed him. They hurt when he was gone. Their hearts were hollow when he went away. To be sure, the realities and doctrines would come. To be sure, the implications of the resurrection would eventually dig a deeper cavern of love and devotion. But when they had Jesus – the person; Jesus – the friend; Jesus – the one they so enjoyed being with back – they couldn’t contain their excitement.
When was the last time you truly enjoyed, not just learning about, but being with Jesus?