Summary: Are we living in the sunlight with Jesus or are we still stuck in a place of death?
The Way of Life
Easter Sunday, Apr 24, 2011
Who would ever have dreamt that the place to find life was at a tomb? A tomb is not a place of life, it is a place of death. A place where people we loved and who have died are buried. I’ve stood at many gravesides, and they are solemn, sad places. Places of endings. Places where goodbyes are spoken, where tears flow, where hugs and other small condolences are offered.
But they are not places of hopelessness. At least not anymore…
I imagine her waking up, early, she probably hadn’t slept much. People in the immediate shock of the death of a loved one often don’t. As she comes awake, she first feels that heaviness in her gut, her mind one short step behind reminds her of the truth: he is dead. The dream has ended. The incredible love she had felt from Him, and for Him, could be no more. He is gone.
She cries for a few moments, but they are surface tears. A little steam out the top of the emotional kettle, that is all, the rest will have to wait. Her heart and her mind and her spirit will protect her from being overwhelmed all at once; besides, today there is work to do.
She gets up, dresses, splashes a bit of water on her face and wipes it with a towel. A chunk of bread she doesn’t even taste is washed down with a little more water, and then it is time. The burial spices she, Mary, and Salome had purchased last night after the Sabbath ended at sundown wait in the basket by the door.
She pauses for a moment, as if to marshal some additional strength for today. She knows what must be done – the Messiah’s body was hurriedly placed in the tomb because the Sabbath was about to begin, now they must finish the job. She has a glimpse of a thought – could she continue to think of Him as “Messiah”, now that He is dead?; maybe He wasn’t who she had believed. But as quickly as the thought had appeared it withdrew; something to figure out later. Today there is work to do.
She knows what that work will entail, so she gathers up the things she will need. The oil with which to wash the body, some cloths with which to wipe, and the burial spices. Those were a splurge, reserved for the bodies of those who had been especially important, and perhaps in some small way might restore a bit of dignity after the way He had died.
She shudders as she remembers Friday. Her skin tenses and her jaw sets, a few more tears escape and are quickly wiped away – there will be time for that later, today there is work to do. She places the bag over her shoulder, and sets her face toward the tomb.
The road looked the same as it had at dusk Friday, when they followed Joseph of Arimathea as he took Jesus’ body from the cross, wrapped it in linen, and then laid it in a tomb. She walks in silence, determined but not hurried, until one of them stops. She lifts her head from her empty stare at the road, wondering why her companion stopped, and she hears her say, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” (Mark 16:3). They have no answer. The soldiers? Ha, not likely. The disciples? None of them but John even made it as far as the cross, there’s not much chance they’ll be at the tomb, they’re still scared for themselves. She doesn’t have an answer, but she also doesn’t know what else to do, so they keep walking.