The Eighth Day
by Mike McKinniss
In John’s account of the resurrection, he is very clear about just when Jesus emerged from the grave. “On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark” (Jn 20:1a). In case the reader did not catch it, the point is reiterated later in the chapter. “In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews” (v. 19a).
Why is it so important to John to be sure we know that Jesus was raised on a Sunday?
The clue is in the opening words of the gospel: “In the beginning…” This is the most famous opening line to any piece of literature and it launches two epic tales. The first is the creation account in Genesis, in which the Creator dives into a whirlwind of activity ordering the cosmos, separating light and dark, sky and water, earth and sea, and filling those environments with the creatures that ought to govern them. In that inaugural narrative, the author marks the very dawn of time.
Here, at the threshold of another epochal era, John gives his readers a scintillating hint at the story he’s about to tell. The story of Jesus is also a creation story. Throughout John’s account, then, he highlights a series of events–seven of them (wink, wink)–as signs of the Creator’s activity working through the hands of Jesus. Water is turned to wine (Jn 2:1-11); a crippled man rises to walk (Jn 5:1-18); Lazarus is raised from the tomb (Jn 11:1-45).
Now John describes one final creative act and he emphasizes its significance by telling his audience the day on which it happened. Jesus was raised on the first day, or rather, the eighth day. This event, John says, marks a new creation. A fresh set of seven days has begun with this empty grave.
And so it has been with every sunrise since that inaugural Sunday. Side by side with the old ways of death and disease and brokenness has marched, steadily though quietly, a second reality of light and life, of healing and wholeness. Although this new more glorious creation is often drowned out by the cacophony of the old bent world, it is no less real and certainly no less powerful.
When you awake tomorrow, remember this: you have opened your eyes in a new creation. The old is washed away; the new has come. Look for it and you’ll see it.
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