Read: The risen Jesus is the source of our hope and joy by Pete Burak

There’s a running joke between my children and me, writes Pete Burak, pictured, who is a father-of-four and parishioner at Christ the King, Ann Arbor: If you can’t find something, ask Mom for help, and she’ll immediately find it in whatever place you’ve looked 17 times already. It’s uncanny how often we are convinced Donovan’s basketball bag has spontaneously combusted and is gone forever, only to have Cait casually walk into the den, and emerge holding the elusive duffel.

On this small scale, it can be unsettling when something is missing from the place you last saw it. Imagine the utter confusion, skepticism, awe and wonder of the apostles when Mary Magdalen bursts in and proclaims that Jesus is no longer in the grave! How their hearts must have soared, ached, marveled, inquired and dared to hope. Questions must have erupted in their minds and conversations. Could this really be true? Has Jesus actually risen from the dead? Where did he go? What does this mean? Do I believe it?

Perhaps the most profound and startling claim of Christianity centers around the fact that Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross, was sealed in a grave and three days later, was no longer there. He vanished, leaving behind his burial cloths.

This mind-blowing reality begins to erupt across Israel and eventually the whole world, because Mary Magdalen arrives at his tomb hoping to honor and revere his remains, but instead encounters a risen Jesus. What a tremendous gift to Mary to be the first to see and believe in Christ’s resurrection! Her witness leads to a biblical footrace between John and Peter (John wins), but Peter enters the tomb to confront first-hand the fact that Jesus’ body is no longer there.

Throughout the remainder of the Gospels, Jesus continues to demonstrate the power of his resurrected body (walking through walls), the reality of what he suffered (Thomas’ finger in his side) and his vision for how the Gospel will reach the whole world (the Great Commission). The Gospel is lifeless and impotent if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. His resurrection changes everything. Death was defeated and the perfect sacrifice was made for the expiation of our sins. We, who had no hope of eternal life, now can be raised to heaven’s glory by the man who conquered the curse of sin.

Mary Magdalen helped the apostles “find” the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection, and now the Holy Spirit does the same for those who are searching. Now we can seek and find the Savior of the world. Now we can look and see the source of our hope and joy. Now we don’t need to wonder where God is because he’s near to, walking with and in the hearts of those who believe!

* Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.