He is not here, He has risen!
The Gospel of Matthew account of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ has always been my favorite, but I love them all. Perhaps because of the human drama that is taking place is why I like this account so much. The chaos of Friday is over and the Jewish ritual of Sabbath has come to an end. It’s now becoming dawn on the third day. These women are walking to the tomb with a mission. They are alone. No disciple is with them. They are taking a basket of spices to finally anoint the body of Jesus because there was no time to do this before.
As they walk, the birds are waking up. One by one they begin to sing their “good morning” songs. They sound so happy! Their music is beautiful! As the women walk, they are talking to each other in short sentences. People who are upset talk in short sentences. These women are so tired, physically and emotionally. It’s doubtful they’ve had much sleep. They keep thinking about all they witnessed on Friday. As they walk, they can finish each other’s sentences. I can almost hear one women say, (if only to get her mind off of all that she is thinking about), “What do these birds have to be so happy about?!” She is not happy at all! The Master has been crucified, died, and has been buried. There is no happiness in her heart. But these darn birds! “I don’t want to hear them singing”, she says out loud. The other women whispers that she agrees as she begins to be out of breath from their quick walk. In a few minutes that sadness is about to change! It will begin with fear and end in joy!
They finally arrive at the tomb. But things have changed. The stone they hoped to get help with, is already moved away! There has been an earthquake. The whole place is a mess. Stones have fallen everywhere. An angel is sitting atop the very stone that had been rolled away. His appearance is blinding, as bright as lightning and his clothes as white as snow. From fear, the shaking guards are like frozen dead men. The women begin to cry very loudly. What have they walked into! It’s as bad as Friday all over again, but worse!
The angel finally breaks the ice and says, “Do not be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; he is risen, just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee”. The basket of spices has fallen to the ground from all this excitement. Tears of sadness and heart-pounding fear have been replaced with unexplainable joy!
As the women hurry away from the tomb, still afraid but filled with joy, running now to tell his disciples what they have witnessed and were told by the angel, suddenly they are met by Jesus! Jesus must have seen how upset they now are and that they needed first-hand proof of what they were told. They need to see him. They need to touch him. He greets them! The women run to him and grasp his feet and worship him. Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, there they will see me”.
I’m out of breath just writing this. Unintentionally, I have somehow become a spectator off to the side. But I feel it’s also for me, not just these witnesses of an empty tomb, stones rolled away, an angel who is hard to look at, and then Jesus Himself!
As the women hurriedly travel to find the disciples, now they just keep repeating what they have seen first-hand. “He is risen! He is risen! He is risen!”
They keep saying it over and over. I suspect by the time they get to the disciples, “He is risen”, is the first thing they say. Maybe that’s all they can say until someone asks them to slow down and tell them everything.
Easter is this. It’s not an annual holy day filled with routine Easter related things to do, or typical Easter songs to sing. Not a day made to wear new clothes recently purchased to show how much you respect the day. It’s not a day for candy and Easter bunnies with pink and yellow fuzzy stuff. Easter is not made to prepare a special meal and invite the grandparents over to play with the grandchildren. All these things are great, but you have to admit you can do these things any day. So what is Easter all about? Close your eyes and picture yourself at the empty tomb and ask yourself why Jesus went through all this. You will find the reason for Easter! He is risen! He is risen! He is risen!
I wish each of you an Easter filled with unspeakable joy to replace any fear or sadness in your life. Only Jesus can do this! Let Him in. He is no longer dead, He is alive!
De Colores! Rev. Jack Moody #355
(Because God loves you and so do I.)