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Running in the Dark
John 20:1-18
Ed in WA

The first thing I noticed in this passage was all the running. Mary ran to the disciples, John and Peter ran to the tomb, John ran faster than Peter. Running, running in the dark.

Today lots of people run. We run for exercise, we might "run" into the bank or we sometimes run into people (sometimes we mean we see them, other times we mean we ran over them with our car), we run in the rat race of life. Some people run just for fun. Running, there is lots of running today.

But in first century Jerusalem, running was very unusual. Sophisticated people (and remember, Jerusalem was the capital city) NEVER ran. It was too undignified, too uncouth. Sophisticated people walked; they walked gracefully, slowly, with grace and dignity.

Running was also dangerous. They did not have nicely paved sidewalks and streets in first century Jerusalem. The streets were covered with cobblestones - rocks about the size and shape of your head, laid down in the mud of the road. Can you imagine running on cobblestones? Can you imagine running on cobblestones in the dark?

No one ran unless there was something very unusual and there was something very unusual going on. The tomb was empty. What happened to Jesus’ body? Who had taken it? Where was it?

Running. Running out of fear. Running. Running out of anxiety. Running out of hope. Peter and John just kept running. Running to the empty tomb and running away.

But Mary stayed. She quit running. She didn’t know what else to do. Suddenly, for Mary the darkness departed, and Jesus spoke to her.

Running in the dark is dangerous for us too. Running our lives without the light of Christ leads to some very serious injuries. It also leads to hopelessness and despair.

In his short story, "The Other Side of the Hedge," E. M. Forster tells about a young man who ran down the same road nearly every day for 25 years. The road was narrow, hot and dusty. It was tightly bordered on both sides by a dense brown hedge that prevented him from seeing or hearing anything on the other side. One day, exhausted by the heat and the monotony of the road, he sat down to catch his breath. A cool breeze of fresh air blows across his face - it seems to come from the hedge. With some difficulty, he pushes through the thorns and branches and suddenly finds himself in an exquisite place of beauty with blue sky, brilliant sunshine and cool waters. The earth rises grandly into hills, trees line the meadows, while flowers decorate them with color and sweet perfume. The air is filled with bird songs and crickets.

As the daylight fades, the runner turns and catches a glimpse of the hedge and the monotonous road he has left. Standing there in the twilight on that thin border between heaven and earth, he senses for the first time what eternal life on the other side must be like.

When Mary paused from her running, the resurrected Jesus spoke to her. When the exhausted runner paused, he caught a breath of fresh air and a vision of beauty and hope. When we pause from running down the dry barren road of life, the resurrected Christ calls our name and leads us to a new life - a life of hope and beauty.