God so loved the world...

Easter Sunday (Acts 10:34, 37-43; 1 Corinthian’s 5:6-8; John 20:1-9)
Traditionally, we have found it easy to think of the cross as the measure of God’s love for us. Because of the focus on the cross, we in the west find it more difficult to think of the resurrection as also the expression love of God, even “all the more so”! The Fourth Gospel teaches precisely that, in an oblique yet significant way. There are two hints in the short version gospel. Of the two male protagonists, it is the Beloved Disciple who comes to faith, precisely because he loves Jesus. The insistence on the cloth around the head may seem strange to us but it will remind the careful reading of two other passages:

  • Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:35–36)
  • The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44)

The head cloth (John 20:7), far more than an incidental detail, teaches two things. First of all, Jesus
loves Lazarus and therefore raises him; likewise, God loves us and will raise us from death. Secondly, the resurrection of Jesus is different (hence the special note about the cloth) because his resurrection is the cause of our resurrection.

To capture the full richness of John’s Gospel, it is necessary to read the rest of the story about Mary Magdalene in vv. 11-18. By calling her by name (like the good shepherd), Jesus re-establishes relationship with Mary Magdalene. The evangelist tells us that coming to Easter faith is a much a matter of loving and being loved as believing. In summary, Jesus died and rose again for love of us — a theme already present in John 3:16-17. Can I really allow myself to be lifted up by so joyful a love?