Summary: Easter B. Christ’s resurrection sets us free from death and the grave, and so we are assured of the resurrection to come.
“A bed of Easter Lilies”
Alleluia. He is risen. He is risen, indeed. Alleluia.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“A bed of Easter Lilies”
It was a quiet morning. The air was still. They had planned to go first thing in the morning. They needed to get there early. There was much to be done, and it would still be cool. Some of the work had been done already. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had been with them on Friday. And His body was wrapped in linen, and with myrrh and spices. But there was still much to do.
The Sabbath had interrupted their work. The sun was about to set on Friday. They did what they could. And then they waited. When the sun went down on Saturday, they had gone shopping in the evening markets and bought the spices they needed.
Now it was just light, just enough light to see. So they gathered their things together, and started walking to the garden; these three women – Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome. You have heard of Mary Magdalene before. She was from the town of Magdala, on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. Salome was the wife of Zebedee. She was the mother of James and John, the sons of thunder. Mary the mother of James, was a different Mary, and the mother of a different James. James the Lesser, which doesn’t sound too complimentary. He’s called lesser because we think he was the younger of the two. Sometimes he’s called James the Little. So these two women are the mothers of Big Jim and Little Jim, as it were.
As these women were walking to the garden, and talking, they are thinking and start asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb?” Mary Magdalene and Little Jim’s mother had seen Joseph of Arimathea roll the stone on Friday onto the entrance to the tomb. He had rolled by himself. So one man ought to be able to move it. But they had seen its great size, and knew that it was more than they could handle. They must not have known of the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb. They surely could have rolled the stone away. And the women express no concern that the guards will keep them out of the tomb. Only the stone. The guards were placed there by Pilate at the request of the chief priests, after Jesus was buried. And the women had not traveled back to the tomb on Saturday because of the Sabbath. So they did know about the guards.
What is unusual is not that they are asking this question, “Who will roll away the stone?” But that they are asking it now, at the last minute, as they are walking on their way. Women are such good planners. They go over all the details. One would expect that in preparing for this task, one of the three would have thought of it already, and they would have made a plan, and had one of the men come with them.
Thinking about it at the least minute, that is what men would do. “Let’s meet up at the cemetery.” “ Okay.” And when they get there, and see the stone, then one of them goes back to get his tractor or front loader, or what have you. Guys are like that. Women plan it out. But we will give these three a pass, because they had much on their minds and hearts.
Jesus – their friend, teacher, and leader, - had just died. More than that – he had been killed - crucified. There was a lot weighing on their minds. But the thought of the moment was their problem – Who will roll the stone away? How are we going to get into that tomb?
The three women wondered how to get into the tomb. We have no such problem. Getting into the grave is not difficult for us: it is no problem at all. Just read the daily obituaries. Every day more people are finding their graves. They get there by different ways. Some die of natural causes – old age. Others die from sickness or disease: heart attacks, cancer. Still others die a sudden and unexpected death. Unpleasant as it is, we have no difficulty getting into the tomb.
On the contrary, we fight to stay out of the tomb. Some of us exercise. Some of us eat right. And whether we eat right or not, just the act of eating is part of our battle to stay out of the tomb. We may eat too much because it tastes good. But fundamentally we eat because if we don’t, we die. We have good doctors and great hospitals. Yet in the end, we lose that battle. We go into the tomb.