The Tomb as a Picture of Mercy

I invite you to push down gently on the brake of your hurried life.  

Slow down and relish Mary Magdalene’s mysterious experience of mercy, captured by her friend John:

John 20:11-14  11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  13 They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."  14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing…

Three subtle surprises meet Mary at the tomb.

First, Mary found that angels of mercy appear in the presence, not in the absence of her emptiness.

Her friends Peter and John looked into the tomb with tearless eyes and saw nothing!

As the story goes, Peter and John ran off leaving her alone at the empty tomb of Jesus.

Standing there alone and feeling empty, her tears began to well up and run over.

Was she weeping as she remembered the seven evil spirits that abused her, and the day Jesus mercifully drove them out of her heart forever?  

Were her tears drawn from the recent well of witnessing her Savior’s shameful and painful death?

As hot tears flow like a fountain over her bloodshot eyes and cascade down her cheeks, she stoops to look into the tomb for Jesus.

Have you ever lost something dear to you?  A wallet?  A treasured ring?  The keys to the car? 

Even though you have searched in a certain spot without finding the object, you keep looking in the same location with desperation to find what you have lost.  

While looking and looking and looking through the waterfall of her tears, like a rainbow-- two dazzling angels appear!

Why do we attempt to escape our pain and sorrows?  Her vision happened in her sorrow.

Second, Mary found that the posture and position of the angels resembled the Mercy Seat.

The ancient ark of the covenant-the throne of God- featured one brilliant angel at the head and one at the feet facing each other.

The so-called “mercy seat” was between the angels.  

The mercy seat was the meeting place between God and man.

But there was one hitch for a meeting to materialize.  

Sinful humanity could only meet with the Holy God after the sacrificial death of an innocent animal took place.

Remember that Mary had seven evil Spirits.  The rarely-read book of Leviticus tells us that the blood of the innocent substitute had to be sprinkled seven times onto the mercy seat.

Without the punishment for sin symbolized and dramatized in the life-giving blood of another, God would not meet with man.

Jesus’ lifeless body had acted as the mercy seat between the angels.  

God solved the problem of our alienation by removing His wrath by means of a substitute sufferer.

Jesus absorbed the wrath of God on the cross diverting our deserved penalty and atoned for our sins.

Jesus was Mary’s mercy seat and she desperately wanted to meet with God again.

Thirdly, Mary found that turning around changes everything.

Not finding Jesus in this mysterious tomb of mercy, she turns around.

Surprise! Mercy himself stands smiling upon her.  Mercy cannot be entombed.

Could it be that the secret of surviving suffering is not the removal of the circumstance but the turning toward the merciful one?

The mystery of Mercy, her Messiah is not lying dead like a cold slab of blood-stained stone.

Instead, he is alive and standing as the meeting place between God and man forever.

Pastor Howard
Senior Pastor
Metro North Church