This takes us to the heart of John’s extraordinary Easter message. The thing John celebrates in the resurrection and imminent ascension of the Lord Jesus is the restoration, and the transformation, of relationships. In this case, it’s his relationship with Mary: as he speaks her name and she replies, ‘Dear Rabbi’, their relationship is restored; as he then commissions her to be what the Orthodox Church calls the apostle to the apostles, taking the good news of the resurrection to the other disciples, their relationship is transformed.
And it’s clear from the errand entrusted to Mary that Jesus’ relationships with those other disciples are also about to be restored and transformed. The Lord tells her, ‘Go to my brothers’. Do you know that’s the first time in John’s Gospel that Jesus has referred to them that way? Previously, Jesus has called them his servants, and even his friends. But his death and resurrection have so restored and transformed relationships that he now refers to his disciples as his brothers. Again, Jesus has spoken often in this gospel of ‘the Father’ and even of ‘my Father’. ‘My Father and I are one’ he said, ‘My Father is still working and I am working’. ‘I have come in my Father’s name’. But right here is the first time in John’s Gospel that Jesus has referred to God as ‘your Father’. Again, until this moment Jesus has never spoken of the Father as ‘your God’. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus, relationships are not just restored, but transformed: Jesus’ God becomes ‘our God’, his Father becomes ‘our Father’.
And sure enough in the rest of the gospel we will see Jesus’ relationships with his brothers restored and transformed: restored, as he invites sceptical Thomas to see and even to touch his wounds; and transformed as he then commissions him, with the other disciples, in those words ‘As the Father sent me so I send you’; restored, as he gently asks Peter, three times over, ‘Do you love me?’ (once for each denial); and transformed as he then commissions him, equally gently, to feed his sheep (once for each denial).
I must stop. You know, if it wasn’t for the first Easter Day, no one would ever have dreamed of celebrating the Christmas. If it wasn’t for the Lord’s resurrection, there’s no way we’d celebrate his nativity.
So why celebrate the resurrection? According to John, it’s because in and it through it, we become brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus; in it and through it, we find that Jesus’ God is our God, his Father is our Father. In it and through it, our relationships with the Living God are first restored and then transformed, as we first hear the Risen Lord calling us by name, and then hear him commissioning us to share the good news with others.
Read it all.