Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Cocky Christians

Why the worst candidates can make the best Christians.

John 20:1–2

Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

The resurrection is the sine qua non of Christianity. Everything being true depends on this being true.

But the amazing thing is that, as of this moment in the narrative, Mary doesn’t believe in the resurrection.

This is also true of the disciples. They will be puzzled by the events at first.

Thus, in a sense, the light bulb coming on for these folks is the moment of conversion. Even the disciples lack a key element of faith.

Consider the events of chapter 20 of John in that light. This is the dawn of Christianity. Everything is choreographed to convert these people. It’s the ultimate example of the fields being white for harvest.

And the thing that makes the fields so white is confusion and grief. Their brains are going a hundred miles an hour and not getting anywhere. They’re totally frustrated and confused.

This is true even though Mary refers to Jesus as, “the Lord.” Her concept of Jesus’s lordship is still too small.

There’s something complex going on here and the only way to explain it is by describing the opposite. Suppose that, after the resurrection, everyone had said, or felt like saying, “I told you so. I knew He would rise.”

That would have ruined everything. Those cocky Christians couldn’t have turned the world upside down the way the real ones did. They would have been too busy being glad they were right.

Instead, the disciples had a terrible, faithless weekend that set them up for His lordship being seared into their brains like a giant branding iron coming down on their foreheads.

After that, their courage was bullet-proof.

This same concept often plays out wondrously in our day. Many of the most fervent and useful Christians came to Christ from the farthest distance. It’s as if you can’t really appreciate food unless you’ve been starving.

Remember this when evangelizing or praying for a loved one to find faith.

Some of the best candidates look like the worst candidates.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

Subscribe to Ailbe Newsletters

Sign up to receive our email newsletters and read columns about revival, renewal, and awakening built upon prayer, sharing, and mutual edification.

No