I’ve been sitting here wondering what to say about Easter. What can I say that hasn’t been said before and by people much wiser than I will ever be?
My thoughts are all over the place, and again, I think about God giving up his only Son to be despised and rejected, beaten to a pulp, hung up to die like a thief or murderer on a rough-hewn cross in a cruel, excruciating manner. Could I do such a thing with my only son, even if that action would save multitudes of people? Could I watch as he, an innocent man, suffered so that they might live?
I wonder, too, what was going through the mind of Mary, mother of Jesus. Did she watch as the life drained from him, scenes of his birth and childhood playing through her mind, slashing her heart like sharp daggers? Did she have any idea what this Child of hers would soon accomplish? That, as the old song says, the Child that she delivered would soon deliver her? The Bible says she treasured in her heart all the events surrounding his birth. Did these come back to comfort her even in the midst of the unthinkable? Or, like Jerusalem weeping over her children, did she, too, refuse to be comforted?
I also think about the first of those followers to hear the good news that the tomb was empty. Did you know they were women?
I can just imagine how Mary Magdalene, the woman Matthew calls “the other Mary” — explained elsewhere to be Mary the mother of James — and the other women who accompanied the two must have felt when they went to the tomb of the Jesus they loved to perform the last bit of service they could for him, to anoint his body with spices. Practicality was also on their minds. Who would roll away the heavy stone so they could anoint the body with the burial spices? Several strong men had put the stone in its place; the women knew they could not move it.
I can feel in my own heart the sorrow they must have felt. Here lay their mentor, their friend, their teacher, the man they believed was Messiah. What tears they must have shed, what pain they must have felt, as they waited until the Sabbath day was ended and they could attend to the body of Jesus.
All four gospel accounts say the women came to the tomb very early in the morning, when it was still dark. The stone had been rolled away. The body of Jesus was gone. Had his enemies stolen his body?
But wait — someone is sitting upon the stone. The gospels differ slightly in this recounting: Matthew calls this being “the angel of the Lord” — a common reference to Jesus – with a countenance like lightning and clothing as white as snow; Mark says they saw a young man clothed in a long white garment; Luke tells of two men in shining garments; John calls them two angels in white. The result was the same. The women were terrified, perplexed, but they were told, “Don’t be afraid. Why do you hunt the living among the dead? Jesus is risen, just as he promised.”
The women were then told to share the good news with the disciples. They departed from the tomb with “fear and great joy,” Matthew tells us, believing, obeying.
In John’s gospel, Mary Magdalene is weeping at the empty tomb, not knowing where the body of her Master lay. When she turned back and saw Jesus, she did not know it was he — didn’t know, until he spoke her name: “Mary.”
A long time ago, when I was 12 years old, Jesus spoke my name and I saw him as my savior. His promises are as true today as they were 50-some years ago — promises that culminate with him remembering me as he sits at the right hand of God our Father. Anytime there’s a question of whose child I am, Jesus presents his nail-scarred hands to the Father and says, “She’s mine; see, I bought her with a price,” just as he does with all of us who call upon his name to be saved.
You can believe it or not. That’s up to you. All I can tell you is that I do.
Hallelujah, what a savior.
Happy Easter, friends.