Mary woke with the dawn cry of the rooster. The coolness of the early morning air served only to confirm the grief she had fallen asleep with. Heavy-hearted and downcast with the events of Friday, she hadn’t slept much the last two nights. Tossing and turning, she couldn’t dispel those images from her mind. The scourging. The raw flesh. The nails. Her Master. Dead. His scarred and disfigured body lying in a cold, dank rocky tomb. Darkness enveloped her as she dressed.
With emotions running wild, Mary picked up the pot of spices and trudged to where she’d agreed to meet James’ mother and Salome. She wondered how they were doing. At least they could grieve together. They’d brought spices. She wasn’t even sure why. What if the soldiers were still there? Even if they weren’t, how were the three of them going to move the stone? She knew why they were going. They just wanted to be there, to help them in their grief.
Not much was said as they walked along the uneven path together. The cicadas provided the only noise – their constant clicking interrupting the women’s lonely thoughts. The narrow path wound its way to where the tomb was. The women neared. Nervous. Unsure. Would the soldiers let them get close?
They rounded the last corner. And then they stopped. They looked. The stone wasn’t in its place. Silently, they exchanged glances and hurried forwards. The heavy stone had been rolled to one side, exposing the entrance to the cave. They peered in, their eyes straining to adjust to the darkness. And then, apprehensively, they entered.
As their eyes adapted to the dark, they looked for the body of their Master. They gasped. Where was it? It should have been right there, on the rocky ledge. This was the right tomb – they were certain. Mary began to speak to the others, but as she did the hairs on her neck prickled. She had the strange sense that they were not alone. She looked at the others and saw them rooted to the spot…staring. Mary’s eyes moved to where their gaze was fixed. And then she saw.
There were two of them. They looked like men. But their clothes were gleaming. Brilliantly. Like lightning. Overcome with fear the three women fell to the ground, prostrate, not daring to look.
And then the men spoke words that would forever be etched in Mary’s memory. “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!”
Mary trembled as she heard these words, spoken with clarity and authority. She was confused. Dazed. Unsure. And then the men spoke again. “Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee. ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’?”
And suddenly Mary remembered. Yes. She’d heard Jesus say those words. She recalled how at the time she hadn’t really understood. None of them had.
I’ve taken some creative license with the Easter story…imagining how it happened. In my time of reflection, this is the thought that occurred to me.
The Christian gospel is not difficult. In fact, it’s really quite simple. Here, let me allow Paul to state it…
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
The facts: Christ died for our sins. Christ rose again. There were many witnesses to these events.
The choice: To believe. To receive. To respond. To accept. To repent.
The promise: Just like the women at the tomb, the first disciples, and millions of people ever since have discovered…our lives will never be the same again.
This Easter, allow the simplicity of the story to soak into you again. Allow the words of the angels, “He is not here; He has risen!” to impact you afresh. And if need be, ask the risen Lord Jesus to come and take up residence in your heart.