Easter 2018 meditation

Christians the world over are waking up this day to the thought that this is the day the church especially remembers that the Lord Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. For some, the 40 day Lent period that preceded was one of sober contemplation leading up to Jesus dying on the cross, followed by his burial. But now Christ is risen.

holy-week-symbols

The Empty Tomb

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Each of the four gospels gives an account of the resurrection story, each one bringing out different aspects. The one above is from John’s gospel. I love the ordinariness of this extraordinary account of the one who on the Friday had suffered a terrible death on the cross and we read how the disciples had come to tend the body but finding that the tomb was empty. Mary Magdalane stayed behind hoping to find out where the body was laid and met the risen Jesus but thought he was the gardener until he called her name.

On the Road to Emmaus

24 13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

I love too Luke’s account of his appearance to two dejected disciples as he walked with them along the Emmaus Road, unaware who he was. They had such great hopes for Jesus the one who will deliver his people, but these had been dashed with his crucifixion. In the conversation that followed Jesus explains how all what happened was as the scriptures had predicted. Only when they stopped to eat were their eyes open and they did realise this was Jesus.

There are many other resurrection stories of course. I love my Anglican friends who take seriously the Lent period and fast and then on Good Friday contemplate his death and on Black Saturday think of Jesus laid in the grave and now early this morning celebrate his rising from the death, toasting his coming among them with champagne. It is a glorious prospect that completes the narrative. The world throws all their hate and vitriol at my Lord but now he is risen, triumphant over sin, death and hell, that now provides the wherewithal for us to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.

risen1

Low in the grave He lay—

Jesus my Savior!

Waiting the coming day—

Jesus my Lord!

 

Vainly they watch His bed—

Jesus, my Savior!

Vainly they seal the dead—

Jesus my Lord!

 

Death cannot keep his prey—

Jesus, my Savior!

He tore the bars away—

Jesus my Lord!

 

Vainly they watch His bed—

Jesus, my Savior!

Vainly they seal the dead—

Jesus my Lord!

 

Death cannot keep his prey—

Jesus, my Savior!

He tore the bars away—

Jesus my Lord!

arose

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

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