“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16)

Imagine that you’re Mary Magdalene, and you are just encoun­tering the risen Jesus for the very first time. Your heart is pounding. Your eyes are wide with wonder. Your breath comes in gasps of amazement. In a combination of joy and shock, you fall at his feet and worship him.

In the Gospel readings all this week, we have seen story after story of how disciples like Mary reacted when they discovered that Jesus had indeed risen to a new and trans­formed life. These encounters are as rich in detail as they are diverse in character and story line.

Why would the authors take so much care in recalling these stories? They wouldn’t need to do so much if all they wanted to do was perpetuate a myth about Jesus magically com­ing back to life. But that wasn’t their goal. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all want to convince us that Jesus really did rise from the dead!

Mary Magdalene really ran trem­bling back to the disciples after she knelt at the nail-scarred feet of Jesus. Peter and John really raced to the tomb and found it empty. The hearts of the two disciples really burned within them as they walked with Jesus along the road to Emmaus. And Jesus really appeared to his disciples as they broke bread and told them: “Touch me and see” (Luke 24:39).

The point behind these stories goes beyond the wave of emotions the disciples felt because of Jesus’ resurrection. These stories also show us how their lives were changed. Think about how much they had grown between the time when they first encountered Jesus and Easter Sunday, and compare that to the new boldness, decisiveness, and commitment they showed after meeting the risen Lord. The Book of Acts is filled with stories that describe the change!

This can be your story, too! The same power that changed the apostles is available to you right now. Jesus really is risen! He really has raised you up to be with him. He is reaching out to show himself to you right now. So let the Spirit build up your faith—and your expectation.

“Jesus, I believe in your resurrection. Pour out your Spirit on me so that I can have new life. May my heart burn within me as I sense your nearness and power today.”

Acts 4:13-21; Psalm 118:1,14-21