We can be prone to sanitizing or sentimentalizing the stories in Scripture, particularly those of Christmas and Easter. Over the last several weeks a mini-series called "The Bible" has been shown on the History Channel in our area. The episodes were preceded with a `violence, sexuality and not suitable for all’ warning.
We need to see the Easter story with fresh eyes; the eyes of the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for His needs. They watched the brutal death of Jesus and the two thieves. They experienced terror as the sun turned dark. Was there lightning, thunder and rain as the battle in the heavens raged? The women were there when Joseph took the body and placed it the tomb. The women were there when the Jewish leaders made them leave Jesus because the Sabbath had begun.
They waited through the long Sabbath for the time when they could properly bury their teacher, leader, beloved friend and Lord. They prepared oils and spices to take with them to anoint the body of Jesus. Did they talk and weep and try to understand the ‘why’ of what had happened? Did they begin to ask the question ‘What next?’
After a sleepless and probably tear-filled night they arose in the chilly pre-dawn hours and went back to the tomb; back to care for him one last time; back to begin the grieving process. Again they were thrown into trauma. The earth shook. The sealed tomb had been ravaged. His body was missing. An angel with appearance like lightning guarded the tomb. The guards lay like dead men. The angel spoke: “He is not here, he is risen! Go home, go back to Galilee and wait for him there”.
What does that mean? Jesus is dead; we saw Him die; we saw Him in the tomb. Trembling and bewildered the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.
In the days that followed, the Jesus they knew, and yet did not know, appeared to them again and again. He spoke peace to them, explained and called them to a new way of living. He called them to grieve, to pray, and to wait for the gift of His indwelling presence.
We are called to live in that same way; with fear, with bewilderment and sometimes deep grief, with a Jesus we know and don’t know; called to go home and wait for His peace and for the gift of His indwelling Presence. We choose to wait until like Mary Magdalene we go to others with the Good News “I have seen the Lord”.
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