Behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they (the women) were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen.” Luke 24:4,5 RSV (Ancient text added)
Clearly, it’s the last thing they expected.
They had watched Him die, these women from Galilee, saw Joseph lay the body in his own tomb, making careful note of where it was.
Reeling from grief and shock, (think 9/11 here) they must have spent that sad Sabbath in tears, wondering, “But why? But how? But we thought…? But where is God?” as they feared the next strike, the tread of soldiers’ sandals on the stairs, the pounding on the door.
Their situation was beyond awful. Marked by dress and accent and occupation, they were strangers in a city in uproar. Should they run…and call attention to themselves? Should they hide…with Judas still out there? He’d betrayed Jesus, after all; the rest of them were easy.
But there was work to be done—sad, ugly work. And like women everywhere, they got to it: gritted their teeth, picked up their spices and oils, and crept out to the tombs. Early, so they wouldn’t be seen.
Whereupon they were greeted by the most wonderful news the world has ever heard: “He lives; He is risen!”
A precious picture book of mine, entitled “He Was One of Us,” pictures Mary Magdalene running from the tomb, her face alight, yellow flame circling her body.
The poem accompanying it reads, “She’s afire with joy! Flames burst out of her/She starts living at last.”
That’s how it must have been.
Though their hard-nosed, practical brothers from Galilee didn’t believe the women at first, thinking it “an idle tale” (vs. 11) they soon became so convinced that they went out and “turned the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6)
Something happened: something unexpected, amazing, wonderful, life-altering.
And that’s what we celebrate today: not bunnies and bonnets and eggs and chocolate, fun as all of that is. We celebrate something far more profound and important, something the disciples didn’t even understand on that first miraculous Sunday. We celebrate the incredible promise Jesus made the night before He died:
“…because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19) Let those words soak in slowly.
The One Who conquered death offers life eternal to all who believe. Easter was not just then and there, but here and now.
Christ is risen! Like Mary Magdalene, we can live…at last!
FATHER GOD: It’s Easter! Let us party like we have a whole future ahead of us. Because we do! Amen.
First published April 16, 2017.