Reading for Easter Sunday
Peace be with you!
Twenty-five years ago this May, my mom jumped on a plane with my newborn brother to help care for Ed, a family friend who was waiting for a new heart. Back then heart transplants were fairly new. In fact, Ed was only the eighty-third heart transplant done in Tampa. Ed and his wife, Kathy, remember my mom driving ninety miles per hour down the interstate that day in May when he got the call that they had a new heart for him. Ed still is mystified why someone who died would give him new life.
This is the kind of mystery Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome face that early morning when they go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’s body according to the Jewish tradition. On their way, the women wonder how they will roll away the stone Joseph had used to cover the opening to the tomb.
But when the three of them get to the tomb, the stone is already rolled away AND Jesus’s body is missing! Who would be strong enough to roll away the stone? Who would want Jesus’s body? Where did they take his body? Nowhere in their panic is there any memory of Jesus attempting to explain that he would rise in three days. In their minds, someone has taken Jesus’s body.
Then a man in white appears to Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome. They are frightened. But the angel says, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you” (Mark 16:6-7 NRSV). Despite this encouragement, the women run from the tomb as fast as they can and, in their fear, tell no one (Mark 16:8).
Mark 16:8b says Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome told no one what the man in white told them. Can you imagine if they had? People would lock those three up in some mental hospital. And who is this man in white? The women may have thought they had seen a ghost. Or perhaps they wondered if they had gone mad. What would they even say? “Jesus’s body was not in the tomb, but some man in white was there and said Jesus would meet us in Galilee just like he said.” Who would believe them? We believe Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome, because we understand how the story comes together.
The people who walked on earth with Jesus may have initially missed the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead. They missed the fact that Jesus has overcome death and given us life. But we have not gone to the empty tomb clueless. We have heard the story over and over again. We understand Jesus had to die to save us from our sins and to overcome death so we could enjoy eternal life. God’s light is still in the world; all we have to do in believe in Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection. It is a mystery, of course. We may not totally understand how or why God would sacrifice his Son for us, except that he did it out of love to give us eternal life.
Jesus later appeared to Cephas, the twelve, five hundred brothers and sisters, James, all the apostles, and the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). And now Jesus appears to you and me today. Jesus meets us wherever we are in life. Jesus meets us where we live. Jesus meets us morning, noon, and night—whatever time we call out his name. Jesus wants to meet with us to bring us into a relationship with God the Father. That is God’s whole plan of sending Jesus to walk on earth with us: to bring us into a relationship with him. What a glorious gift!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17 NRSV).
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you Jesus Christ’s death on the cross to redeem us from our sins. Help us to understand the mystery of Jesus’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Come to us in our daily lives, so we can meet with Jesus and be in relationship with you. Keep us in the light, so we may know your love. Thank you for meeting with us in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- How does Jesus continue to redeem you of your sins?
- Where does Jesus Christ meet with you? How does he appear to you?
Painting by Erin M Diericx © 2014