25 March 2024

The TL's Easter message 2024: Recognising Jesus

Commissioner Paul Main

Remote video URL

Territorial Leader Commissioner Paul Main shares an Easter message.

What makes people difficult to recognise? People change their hair, their clothes, their glasses. Sometimes we see them outside their usual setting, which is a very familiar experience for Commissioner Jenine and I in our roles as territorial leaders.

Soap stars have described being greeted by strangers like close family or friends, only for the embarrassed greeter to realise they only know the person from the TV – I’ve got a friend who can tell you about an encounter in a flower shop exactly like this!

We are not told what was different about Jesus on Easter Day, but John’s account of the Resurrection (see John 20:1–18) contains a complex connection of seeing and believing – or rather, a combination of not seeing and yet believing, and seeing and yet not being able to believe or understand.

Mary sees that the stone has been rolled away and fears that grave robbers are responsible. Later, she plucks up the courage to look inside the tomb. Through her tears, she sees two angels but seems unable to process this sight. When they ask why she is weeping, she does not see this as a challenge to rethink what is happening, but as a question from two strangers. She responds: ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him’ (v13 English Standard Version).

The story builds as she turns and sees Jesus, but fails to recognise him and continues with the same train of thought: ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him’ (v15 ESV).

None of these sights – the empty tomb, the two angels in white or even Jesus himself – is able to move her from the agony of her loss to a new place of faith. Seeing is not believing. Notice that it is hearing her own name said by Jesus that changes everything. 

Peter and John both respond to the Resurrection in their characteristic ways. John reaches the tomb first, but does not dare to go in. Peter comes running up behind him and goes straight in, impulsive as always. He needs to see and know and, despite it being a place of the dead, nothing is going to prevent him from seeing with his own eyes. Peter takes careful note of not only where the linen cloths are, but also the fact that the cloth from Jesus’ head has been rolled up separately. Peter has the details in his sights, but in that moment cannot see the wood for the trees.

Only John, the beloved disciple – having finally plucked up the courage – comes into the  empty tomb and sees and believes.

These three witnesses in John’s account each respond and react differently. But to each of them, Jesus brings peace. John clearly outlines that, whatever our need or circumstance – in the sadness of life when we are hurting and grieving, locked down emotionally or spiritually – Jesus, the Saviour of the world, the risen Lord, comes personally to us bringing peace. He changes everything!

Bill and Gloria Gaither’s song ‘I’ve Just Seen Jesus’ retells the Easter story and emphasises that when you see Jesus, the impact is such that you will never be the same again. Look at the parallels between the lyrics and John 20.

We knew he was dead,
‘It is finished,’ he said.
We had watched as his life ebbed away.
Then we all stood around
Till the guards took him down.
Joseph begged for his body that day.

It was late afternoon
When we got to the tomb
Wrapped his body and sealed up the grave.
So I know how you feel,
His death was so real,
But please listen and hear what I say.

It was his voice she first heard,
Those kind gentle words,
Asking what was her reason for tears.
And I sobbed in despair,
‘My Lord is not there.’
He said, ‘Child, it is I, I am here!’

I’ve just seen Jesus,
I tell you he’s alive!
I’ve just seen Jesus,
Our precious Lord, alive!
And I knew, he really saw me too
As if till now, I’d never lived.
All that I’d done before
Won’t matter anymore.
I’ve just seen Jesus!

I pray that this Easter you’ll see Jesus and know the reality of his peace with you. I pray this for our communities, for individuals, for our world in the circumstances and challenges of these days. I also pray that what we experience in and through Jesus will be seen and believed by those around us – family, friends, colleagues and strangers.

Let’s make sure that Jesus is seen and recognised in our living.

Written by

A photo of Paul Main.

Commissioner Paul Main

Territorial Leader

Discover more

Devotions, articles and resources to help you journey through Lent and celebrate Easter.

Salvationist introduces prayer points from Journey with Jesus.

Salvationist Radio shares a Good Friday meditation as we take time to reflect on Jesus' love and mercy.

Join us this Easter weekend on Salvationist Radio as we reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus.