It’s here. It’s still dark outside, but it’s here. This is the time I imagine it happening. The disciples still in bed, the women perhaps just now stirring in the dark, waking themselves, feeling again the weight of grief that greets each day after the loved one is gone. They gather up the spices, their hands lead weights, their feet and legs shuffling as if through deep water, nothing quite real. But it’s all too real as they see the stains of blood still on the clothes the Sabbath didn’t allow them to clean.
Then the walk in the dark to the grave. The first stirrings of light in the sky, wondering how hard it will be get the stone rolled away, whether they’ll get any trouble from the Roman guard posted around the tomb. Mary Magdelene remembering their hilarity and inhuman mockery of Jesus as he hung up there Friday afternoon. Maybe her mind was all of dread as she made her way through the city. Grief, fury, resignation, weeping…or maybe just a stoic toughness as she went, determined to put off the decay of his body for as long as she could.
And there it is. In the first light of dawn, they arrive to find…what? Theft. Nothing as they anticipated. Not only was he brutally killed, but now someone has violated his grave. It is the grossest of crimes, the disturbance of a dead body, the final disrepect of this man who deserved nothing but honor and glory. Disorientation sets in, and they wonder.
The missing body of Jesus disorients. Religion is fine with martyrs and holy men, eccentric teachers and revolutionaries who lay down their lives for the cause. Leave Jesus in the grave and he’s a good man, a little funky perhaps, and certainly there were things he said that could be left aside, culled out of the more solid middle ground of his teaching.
But the body is gone. Is there a way to say this outside of religious terms? The body is gone. The cemetary has opened a grave and left it gaping. And then the unthinkable: Jesus walks back into everyone’s lives, everything different. This is no Lazarus resurrection, a mere putting off of the death that is coming, but no. This is the resurrection that ends an era, begins a new forever, and launches hope far greater than any thousand ships. Here is Beauty that cuts a deep path with every step, saying, “Follow me.” This is the yellow brick road, the road home, the way through the suffering of the earth, the means by which rest can find the most weary, comfort can find the most tortured, and life can find the most dead.
It is beyond imagining. Faith alone speaks today. This is the brink of madness. Paul said this is nuts to anybody but us, but for we who believe this is the power and grace of God. Let us rise to meet the dawn, walk in the dark to the tomb, and finally gaze in wonder at life pouring into us again.
Jesus said that we who believe in Him, in this…
We will never die.