Easter Reflection: He is Risen!

It was early in the morning, the sun just rising over the trees, bathing the garden in a pale sunlight. Shadows still hazy and the sound of birds heralding the start of another spring day in Jerusalem. A joyous dawn chorus to welcome in the day of all days.

The women had risen early; they had to make the most of the daylight. Although the Sabbath had finished at sunset the night before, a graveyard was not the place to go in the dark. Anyway, it would not have been enough time for them to do their work; this was special work, a labour of love.  Something that needed the utmost care and attention. Something that could not be hurried or done in the darkening moments of a Saturday evening.

And so they came, carrying the tools of their job. Jars of myrrh, spices, oils and ointments and cloths. Probably with pitchers of water too, to gently wash down the blood-spattered body of the man they had watched die some 40 hours before.

They were still numb, numb from shock and grief. This was a living nightmare, and every step was an effort. But as much as their grief was crippling, they knew what had to be done to fit in with burial practices in Jewish law. It was their one last act of love and devotion for the man they had hoped and thought would be their messiah. But now, all that hope looked as dead as the body they had gently retrieved from the cross at Golgotha.

It was over; all the tears in the world wouldn’t change that.

And so they walked silently towards the tomb carved into the hillside. A borrowed tomb offered at the last minute by a good man. That had been a relief, as looking to prepare a tomb had been the last thing on anyone’s agenda.

The women were expecting trouble ahead; the Roman soldiers had been ordered to guard the tomb with their lives, and a Roman soldier never disobeyed orders and got away with it alive. Yet the women knew what had to be done and they prayed that somehow God would make it possible for them to get into the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus.

Stumbling over the rocky garden path, they prayed under their breath, seeking strength for the task ahead.

Then turning the final corner, they stopped in horror, not believing what lay before them. The huge stone sealing the tomb’s entrance lay smashed on one side. Discarded as if a mighty power had hurled the rock away.

No sign of guards, no sign of the crucified body inside and with one voice, they wailed in confused despair presuming the tomb had been raided. Surely this was insult upon injury, who would steal the dead body of their beloved Jesus?

As the women sobbed in the empty tomb, their tears blurring their vision, they became aware of a glow, so white and bright that it shone with the glory of heaven. It was brighter than the sun yet not blinding them. Through the light, they saw the figure of a young man, an angel, dressed in white, sitting on the stone slab where they’d laid the body of Jesus two days before.

‘Fear not,’ the angel told them, ‘you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified… he has risen, he is not here!’

Tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy as the women realised that this was no dream; this was the power of the living God, the promise of the resurrection before their very eyes.

With indescribable joy, and untold adrenaline the women hoisted up their robes and ran as fast as could, dropping their jars and morbid oils, to tell the remaining disciples still hiding in shock back in the city.

Half-afraid, half-delirious they ran, breathless and trying to process in human minds the extraordinary reality that they knew to be true. Who would believe the word of a woman!

Jesus has risen, he had not stayed dead, he had been right after all, he was the messiah. He still is…and women and men are still sharing that amazing news today.

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