You cannot fully appreciate the resurrection of Sunday until you have been through the darkness of Friday and the silence of Saturday. You do not know what joy it brings to have new life until you have seen the old life die. You cannot grasp the gravity of the defeat of death until you have wallowed in the grief of the grave. You cannot fully understand life until you have experienced life taken. You cannot embrace the love of Christ until you begin to see that this Love was willing to die for you.
We absolutely celebrate this Easter Sunday that Jesus is arisen – he is arisen indeed! But that celebration follows the heavy, dark, deep grief of the last two days. For just a moment, we have to put ourselves in the place of the disciples. Their lives have been destroyed, moment by moment, as Jesus was beaten, battered, and eventually hung on a cross to die. Jesus breathed his last breath. Take that in for a moment. Jesus breathed his last breath. The Creator and Sustainer of life had no life. He was put to death. He was put to death and no one really fully understood why. No one really got it. It was a rush, an opportunity by the authorities to get this done, to pull one over while the chance offered itself. If you get rid of the problem, everything goes back to normal, right? If you can stop the one that is making trouble and challenging the control, then all will resume, surely. Jesus was taking away control from those that had the clutches on control. Controlling people was their specialty. They may have even tried to control…God? But Jesus had none of that. Now he is dead, though. He is dead and control is back where it belongs. Except it is not. Nothing will ever be the same again. Jesus may be dead, but that is not the end of the story. The disciples don’t know that. They didn’t understand there was more to the story. They didn’t get that this was the end of a chapter, not the end of the book. There was more. There is more. But the disciples and Mary, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Lazarus…all they see is defeat, death, the tomb. It had all happened so fast and now everyone is reeling from it all. Everyone. What is next?
For the Marys, it is time to prepare the body. That is what is next. Passover has concluded, they can now do what their tradition holds for them to do. It is part of their duty and yet it brings such peace – a sense of being able to do one last thing for Jesus. As difficult as it is, they would have it no other way. Jesus deserved the best and they would give that to him. Except, they couldn’t. He wasn’t there.
Matthew 28:1-10 *scripture included below*
It is Easter Sunday so you know…He IS risen. But look at all the activity that took place for those first to the tomb, for those that were up early to serve. They caught a glimpse of the mystery, they were invited into the Holy, they became a part of the unveiling. God was NOT done yet. A messenger brings what we consider good news – but what must have seemed like absolutely confusing and strange – even fearful news at the time. He is not here. Such a simple few words with more meaning that our minds can possibly comprehend – HE IS NOT HERE. Where is he? What happened? What do you mean he is not here? Who moved him? What could possibly be going on? Why is he not here? And what do we do about this? Then the news…he has been raised. Raised from what? Raised from the ground? Taken to higher ground? Raised higher in the tomb? Taken to a safer place? Not here and raised…what does this even mean? Then the words…Come and see. See for yourself what has happened. See where he was and where he is no more. Come over, get a closer look, and experience the mystery…experience what God has done. He is NOT here!
And now they are told to go. Come and see – experience, take it in – allow it to wash over you like a shower of forgiveness. And now go. Go tell, go see for him for yourself. Go tell the others what you have seen and what has happened…and then go meet him. He is waiting for you.
Matthew tells us that they left with fear and great joy. That seems like a mix of emotions. I bet they were a ball of nervous and confused energy. What do we do with this? What does this mean? We saw him die, we know he died. How can he be alive? What has happened? Excitement, fear, joy, sorrow, highs, lows and everything in between -all rolled into a ball as big as the stone that covered the tomb. Except it has been moved. Jesus knew this. Jesus knew these women better than anyone. He knew their heart, their sincerity, their love. He knew their grief, he watched them mourn at his very feet. He understood the weight of what had been poured down as his blood trickled right before their very eyes. He got it. And so he meets them on the way – for assurance, for guidance – but most of all, for love. This was not the end, this is the turn of the chapter, a new life has begun.
Our new life has begun. In the middle of the turmoil, despite the darkness, in the center of our fears, new life is beginning. Jesus is risen and that means something today – just like it meant something to Mary, Mary and the disciples. It means hope has been restored. It means the light has not been extinguished. It means there is still life – and life forevermore. Death does not have the final say, God does. The devil does not have the ultimate hold, Jesus does. Hatred, fear, anger do not have to rule our hearts – love can – love will – love does. Love overwhelms and shines light in the dark places. Love conquers – love wins. Jesus brings new life.
So, if you feel the darkness and the heaviness – if you are weighed down by the destruction, the mess that has too long wreaked havoc in your life, the hatred that has filled your very heart, and anger that has overtaken your mind – this is not the end. You are not defeated. You are no longer captive to your sin. You are no longer a slave. You are not captured, but you are set free. Because Jesus arose, light has shone brighter than the noonday. Because Jesus arose, you have the opportunity for life – real, true life. You have the opportunity for freedom and joy. You can have peace. Darkness does not have to be all you see. Because Jesus arose, he brings love where love has never been welcomed – into our hearts. Jesus is alive. Is HE alive in you?
Jesus died so that we would have life. If you are tired and longing for real life, seek Jesus. If you are overwhelmed and beat up, find Jesus – he is waiting. He died for you so that you would not live in the misery. Jesus heals, your heart and your life. Today, may we invite Jesus to live in us, through us, and with us. May his Spirit guide our steps. May his love wash over us and spill out everywhere we go. And may he set us free – for he truly redeems. Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened, ask and you shall receive – Jesus is waiting for you today. Blessings as he changes your life forever.
Scripture Reference: Matthew 28:1-10
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,[b] and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”