Summary: Women hoping to tend to Jesus’ body went to his tomb. The stone closing the entrance was rolled aside. They met an angel announcing that Jesus had been raised from the dead. This event set in motion our own final salvation.
Easter started in darkness.
Jesus had been buried quickly but compassionately after he died on Friday afternoon. With permission from the Roman governor, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, two Jewish religious leaders who quietly followed Jesus, took Jesus’ body down from the cross, carried him to Joseph’s own tomb, packed his body in spices, and wrapped him in linen. Then they rolled the heavy rock door back in place along the channel made for it. They were kind, but they certainly weren’t expecting Jesus to rise again.
The next day Pilate placed guards at the tomb and sealed it so that Jesus’ followers couldn’t steal the body and proclaim that Jesus had risen from the dead. The women prepared to do the only thing that seemed to make sense. After staying with Jesus as he died on the cross, they watched Joseph and Nicodemus bury him.
Then, as soon as the Sabbath was over at sundown on Saturday, they went to the market and purchased the spices they needed to care for Jesus’ body and to finish burying him properly. They weren’t expecting Jesus to rise again either. They assumed God’s plan had stalled out.
Jesus’ disciples themselves had lost sight of God’s plan. They scattered when Jesus was arrested. They were afraid and went into hiding. They had almost certainly come to the conclusion that God’s plan had been completely derailed.
We understand. It’s easy to lose sight of God’s plan.
Death makes us think God’s plan is over. When someone dies because they were sick and we prayed for them to get well, their death feels like God has failed and that his plan for them is over. When someone dies because of an accident, it feels like God’s plan for them has been interrupted.When they die because of violence, it feels like God has failed. When we face death, God’s plan may be difficult to see.
Big deals make us think God’s plan is in jeopardy. Big deals are the powerful people who try to control us. They make decisions about us. Occasionally, we find ourselves in the power of a big deal--it may be a boss or a bully or even a blind corporation or a less than kind part of the government. When we find ourselves in the power of a big deal, we feel threatened. Fear easily makes us think that God’s plan is in jeopardy.
Bad days even make us lose sight of God’s plan. On those days when the inbox is fuller than the outbox, we can lose sight of God’s plan.On those days when the gossip and controversy whirl around us, we can lose sight of God’s plan.On those days when we’re frustrated by one thing after another, we can lose sight of God’s plan. When one last straw threatens to break the camel’s back, it is so easy to lose sight of God’s plan.
It’s like the way labor can make us lose sight of a baby. Before our first son was born, my wife went past her due date, so the doctors wanted to induce her.We arrived at the hospital at 5 o’clock in the morning. They hooked her up to the medicine to start labor; then the fun began. Her contractions started. At first they were small. I could see them on a monitor. Then they started to grow. Over the course of the day, the contractions got so strong that they became painful. I was focused on timing her contractions and watching how strong they were. People were in and out taking all kinds of measurements. It was a whirlwind of activity. Finally, it was time for her to push. Doctors and nurses were everywhere. There was even one nurse standing up on the end of the bed pushing on her belly as she pushed. In the middle of all the chaos, our son was finally born. I hadn’t thought about the baby in hours, because I had been so focused on the labor and delivery process.
That’s what happens with God’s plan. We get so caught up in the stuff that’s happening around us, that we forget God’s plan. That’s certainly what happened after Jesus died. God’s big plan to save us faded from mind.
God’s plan was actually still moving.
The women hurried off to the tomb, worrying about the stone in their way. It was dawn on Sunday, the first day of the week. The women who had been with Jesus all along met. They had already purchased and prepared everything they needed to finish burying Jesus properly. But they remembered that Joseph and Nicodemus had rolled the big stone covering the tomb back into place. It is even likely that Joseph and Nicodemus had servants to help them. Little did the women know that since that time, Pilate had sealed the tomb and set guards in place. They wisely wondered how they would get into the tomb to do their work, but they set off anyway.