'I am returning to my Father and your Father'
What do a demon-possessed woman, a few fishermen, a rebel, some spiritual dreamers, a government tax collector, and some religious fundamentalists have in common?
They all grieved the loss of their teacher and friend Jesus. On the first day of the week some two thousand years ago, a few of the women went to the tomb to put embalming elements on Jesus’ body, but when they got there the body wasn’t where they had left it.
The Apostle John, the one whom Jesus loved, records that the first to encounter the risen Jesus was Mary Magdalene. Listen to what Jesus tells the overwhelmed, overwrought, now over-joyed Mary:
"Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' John 20:17 NIV
‘My Father and your Father.’
What do these people have in common? They were friends of Jesus, and brothers and sisters of the King adopted into His royal family. They grieved because they lost the one that made them closer than family, because ‘the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.’ Just as Jesus had taught His followers to pray, leading out with that recognition of our identity as His: “Our Father…”
Everyone who is invited to be part of Jesus’ family are made brothers and sisters by adoption of heavenly Father, which wouldn’t have been possible without Jesus’ sacrifice which restores our right relationship.
I’ve been amazed sitting with South Americans and locals in an African village, and with Americans speaking with Chinese, listening to hymns in Creole or in Spanish, in French or in Bambara, and talking ministry with Japanese people and natives of India in suburban Chicago, all of us brothers and sisters with Jesus and sharing unashamedly stories of our sinful and broken past, of how God met each of us through Jesus.
The Bible says: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12 NIV)
It wasn’t that Jesus was simply leaving them on their own. He was going ahead to prepare the next stop, or more accurately the final stop for the family to gather.
We have much to look forward to, this disparate and often-times dysfunctional family of Jesus, as we worship together in our journey “to my God and your God.”
Jesus said: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3 NIV)