Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection
We have heard the tale over and over, year after year. Films have depicted it in various ways; famous paintings of it color our imaginations.
Two-thousand years of cultural contemplation of this event give us many advantages over the original Christians, that small group of Jews reeling over the death of their dear friend and teacher. Yet there is one advantage they have over us: they saw the empty tomb.
Today we hear of Mary Magdalene’s shocking discovery of that barren tomb, the tomb she herself saw occupied by the body of her beloved Jesus. No doubt the events of His death still filled her mind, and at the earliest possible moment on Sunday morning as the Sabbath ends, she makes the trek back to the tomb to continue mourning Him.
But the tomb is empty. What she remembered from Friday afternoon and what lay before her was in utter contradiction. We see from her words to Peter—“They have taken the Lord from the tomb…”—that she did not yet believe Jesus had risen from the dead. Interestingly Scripture does not say that she even looked inside, as if she saw the stone had been moved and instantly turned to run. Had she looked, she might have seen what Peter and the other disciple saw: the headcloth rolled up neatly and set aside from the shroud that covered His body. This would have told her, as it told them, that there was no tomb raid. The disciple who looked into the tomb “saw and believed” when he took note of this small detail.
And so we come back to the present, to ourselves. We generally have a sense that yes, Christ rose from the dead. But do we believe it, even though we have not seen? Is Easter just another holiday for us, or is it a great day of rejoicing because our Jesus rose from the dead? Do we live as though Jesus is right here with us, or must we also see to believe?
On this the one thousand nine-hundred and eighty-third anniversary of Christ’s victory, let us run joyfully to that tomb, and let us dare to peer inside to see that it is indeed empty because we know, as Mary could not have known, its emptiness does not mean that Jesus is gone. Rather, it means that Jesus is nearer to us than He has ever been before.