We have all heard the “needle in a haystack” saying before. It is a simple illustration to describe how hard it is to find something very specific we are looking for. Usually, it is buried, or hidden among many other things that look very similar to that one thing you want and need. This analogy similarly applies to our faith. There are countless paths from which to choose. But, only one will take us to God.
In John chapter 20, Mary Magdalene finds the stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. She runs to tell Simon Peter and one of the other disciples what had happened. When they return to the tomb, they find the linen cloths and the kerchief neatly folded separately by itself. The disciples then believed and went back home.
After the disciples left, Mary knelt outside the tomb and wept. When she looked into the tomb, she saw two angles sitting there and they asked her, “Woman, why do you weep?” Mary said, “They took my Master, and I don’t know where they put him.” As she turned away she saw Jesus standing there. But, she didn’t recognize him. Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.” Jesus said, “Mary.” Then, she knew!
Jesus told her to go to the other disciples and tell them. Mary ran as fast as she could to give them the good news. Mark 16:11, says “When they heard her report that she had seen him alive and well, they didn’t believe her.” Jesus’ own disciples, his brothers, the men who knew him better than anyone else on earth could not let themselves believe the truth. Why?
Like us, I believe the disciples went through most of their lives searching for the truth, for that one sliver of real sustenance. They wanted to find it so badly, and searched for so long that they became jaded. They got tired of travelling dead end roads, and over time caved under the possibility that they may never find what they were looking for. Maybe that “needle in the hay stack” didn’t even exist, they (probably) thought.
When they heard that Jesus was alive and well just a few short days after they saw him die a horrific death it was far too much to ask of their fragile faith… “It isn’t possible, Mary just saw someone who looked like Jesus… it’s just some elaborate hoax…” you can easily surmise was said in their conversation. It was easier to swallow the pain of their Master’s death than to risk exposing their tender hearts to another blow of empty hope.
Of course, we know that Jesus dealt with the disciple’s unbelief in Mark 16:14, “Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, he appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up.” Chances are, it is easy for each of us to identify with the mindset of the disciples. But, these day we are confronted with exponentially bigger “haystacks”, dead end roads, and empty promises of a ‘better’ life. We can choose to either vainly search for ourselves, or simply accept the truth of the Gospel. We can listen to our Heavenly Father like the children he has called us to be (Matthew 18:3-4) and believe.
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