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GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey

Image by Bruno van der Kraan


12 April 2023


While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb

Reading: John 20:1

The Easter story started when it was still dark. John writes that:  while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb” (John 20:1) Easter emerges from the darkness of death and tears, the shadows of fears and sorrows of this sad world but ended up with joy and resurrection. That's exactly where and why we need Easter. Today too. In a real way the darkness of death persists for us in our families, nations and throughout the world. 

This old world has become very dark in ways that are evil, ways that unbiblical values are creeping into the Church, ways of hatred and violence, ways of economic imbalance. Amidst of all these, Easter comes for those who, like Mary, find themselves lamenting and crying, those who are still determined to follow and pay their respect to the dead body of Jesus and finds that His body was not there. This then increased her sadness and her mission changed from anointing the corpse of Jesus to taking rumours to the disciples that: they have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have put him. (John 20:2) May all our frustrations and challenges in life not divert our focus to follow worldly values, but we should be determined to follow the truth and live out the truth of God’s word in our daily life.

Peter and John, run to check out Mary's terrible news. They investigate the matter more thoroughly than did Mary and confirm that the tomb was empty, but the wrappings were both still in the tomb and neatly folded up. The empty tomb resulted in two opposite reactions. For Peter, the vacant tomb with grave clothes meant nothing in terms of the resurrection. For John, they caused him to believe that Jesus had risen. Though he had not yet seen the risen Christ, he believed based on the evidence. 


There are many opportunities to see Jesus today in everyday living with the risen Christ. But, we today are more in the position of John. He inspected the empty tomb and saw the grave clothes. On this he was led to believe that Jesus was alive. Though he did not see Jesus, he believed. In the same way, we cannot have a resurrected Jesus to come to us in bodily form. We cannot literally see him or hear his voice. Nevertheless, based on the evidence of his resurrection, we can believe he is alive. The bible says:"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe (John 20:29)." Today let’s not be like Peter who did not believe, and still did not understand what the scripture says.

After seeing the empty tomb with the grave clothes inside, the disciples returned home but Mary Magdalene continues to stay around until the end and she returns to the disciples with good news, "I have seen the Lord!"(John 20:18) She told the disciples what she had seen and heard, in order that they too might stop weeping but share her joy of believing the incredible hope! We need to learn from Mary the lesson of persistence or clinging to something until we see the end. This made Mary Magdalene becoming the first commissioned evangelist in history as Jesus authorizes her to go and preach the good news to the disciples. 

The resurrection gives us good news that the risen Lord knows all his followers and friends by name. He called Mary by her name, and she responds to him. 

John reports that: “Jesus said to her ‘Mary’ she turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic ‘‘Rabboni’’ which means teacher’’.


Jesus also knows your name. No matter how deep the darkness of your life may seem, listen for that voice calling your name. Listen for that voice and then start living Jesus' new life right now, even while it is still dark. 


When Jesus resurrected from the dead, He deliberately left behind the grave clothes inside the tomb (John 20:6). This demands for Christians to leave behind all things that are valueless, things that are unbiblical, things that only gratify human lust and pleasure, but are sinful. 

May the joy and blessings of the risen Christ be with you and your loved ones.


We wish you all a Happy Easter celebration.


Contributed by:
The Most Revd Dr Justin Badi Arama

Archbishop and Primate of the

Episcopal Church of South Sudan and

The Metropolitan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Juba

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