Friday, April 17, 2020

Set Free by the Empty Tomb

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36

Last week as we celebrated Easter, I remembered a story I once heard about a first grade teacher who gave her class an assignment that involved plastic eggs. She passed out an egg to each of her students and told them, “Easter is about life. So, I want you each to take your egg home and put something inside it that is a sign of life.” The next day the kids returned with all sorts of things in their plastic eggs: leaves, blades of grass, an ant and even a butterfly. But when one little boy opened up his egg, it was empty. The other kids laughed. The teacher asked him, gently, why he didn’t do his assignment. He answered, “I DID do my assignment. My egg is empty because on Easter Jesus’ tomb was empty. Isn’t that a sign of life?”

It certainly is. And today I’d like to take a look at one of the first people to discover the empty tomb: Mary Magdalene. That empty tomb transformed her life. And it can transform yours as well.
All four gospels mention women going to the tomb at sunrise on resurrection Sunday to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. Matthew, Mark and Luke mention several women in the group, but each time, Mary Magdalene is at the top of the list. And John doesn’t even mention the other women. He focuses entirely on Mary Magdalene. What was so special about Mary Magdalene? That’s just the thing: As best as we can tell, she wasn’t very special at all. In fact, before she met Jesus a year or two earlier, she was pretty messed up.

Now, over the centuries many Christians have assumed that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute with loose morals. But nothing in Scripture supports that. When Mary Magdalene is introduced in Luke 8, we read that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (verse 2). So, most people who knew Mary Magdalene wouldn’t have said, “She’s a floozy!” They would have said, “This lady has lost her mind! Those demons are making her as nutty as a fruitcake.” But one day Mary Magdalene met Jesus. He drove out the seven demons and set her free. And she was never the same again.

From that point forward she stuck with Jesus wherever he went—regardless of whether he was popular or unpopular, regardless of whether the crowd was shouting “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday or “Crucify him!” on Good Friday. Mary Magdalene was one of the few remaining followers of Jesus who was faithful and courageous enough to stand at the foot of his cross. She was the first to arrive at Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning. And she was the first to see Jesus after he rose from the grave.

This woman had likely been tormented by demons for years, but she was set free from her demons by the power and authority of Jesus Christ. And she was forever grateful to him. She had been forgiven much, so she loved much.

This transformed woman became even more transformed when she experienced the empty tomb and saw her risen Savior face-to-face. She ran back to the disciples and exclaimed, “I have seen the Lord.” They probably thought she had lost her mind again. But she hadn’t.
This oppressed woman had been transformed by Jesus Christ. And she was more in her right mind than ever before. Once again, Jesus Christ had set her free.

Honestly, many of us need to be set free in much the same way as Mary Magdalene. Some of us are held captive by our past. We look back on who we used to be and we’re the first to admit, “I was nuts! I was out of my mind. I wasn’t rowing with both oars in the water.”  And what’s worse, we know our family and friends had a front row seat to our nuttiness. They saw it all! They heard it all! And sometimes we feel like crawling into a hole. We know that we’ve deeply hurt the people who mean the most to us. We’ve burned so many bridges. And even though we’ve made big changes in our lives, we can’t repair the damage we’ve done. We’re still haunted by the demons of our past.

Well, I have good news for you. Just as surely as Jesus drove Mary’s demons out of her, he can drive the demons of our past out of you and me—if we’ll let him. There were likely times when Mary Magdalene thought about the woman she used to be, and she felt like crawling into a hole. But Jesus Christ had set her free. So, she boldly stood at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. And she boldly led the ladies to Jesus’ tomb on Resurrection Sunday. And after seeing Jesus with her own two eyes she proclaimed to the rest of Jesus’ followers, “I have seen the risen Lord!”

So, if you feel like a prisoner of your past, Jesus holds the key to your prison cell. He alone can set you free. As Jesus himself says in John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” So, journey to the empty tomb today. Come to Jesus and take hold of his forgiveness. Take hold of his healing. And take hold of his peace. Because the tomb is empty, because Jesus is alive … you CAN be set free from the demons of your past. You CAN be set free from  your guilt and shame. Jesus Christ can set you free. And if the Son of God sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our online worship service tomorrow at
10 a.m. at or on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.

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