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Summary: When the women who had followed Jesus came to the tomb, they found a disturbed tomb and angels that spoke to them. What they did not find was the body of the Master. This becomes the basis for Easter, the foundation of the Faith of Christ the Lord.

“There was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

“On the Sabbath, they rested according to the commandment.

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” [1]

“April is the cruellest month.” So begins “The Waste Land,” by T. S. Eliot. It is a strange way of describing spring, and the promise of new life. He writes of lilacs growing once more as they thrust upward from the dead earth, the dead tubers spontaneously springing to life. Eliot is describing the return of feeling after emotional numbness, of those who are already old witnessing youth and growing depressed. New love can be a reminder of youth and of love lost. Thus, April is the cruellest month.

Was Eliot a believer in the Risen Christ? I can’t say, but this poem is written without expressing any hope beyond this life. On that glorious day when the women at last went to the tomb where the body of the Master had been laid, they went expecting to show their consideration to one who had died at the cruel hands of wicked men. When they arrived, they found the tomb, and they also found the grave clothes. It was what they didn’t find that energised the early churches. And it is what they didn’t find that thrills the soul to this day.

THE FIRST EASTER — Jesus of Nazareth was a wonderful teacher, a powerful preacher. Though He could rebuke arrogance, and though He did not suffer religious pettiness, He delighted those who heard Him speak. His words disarmed even those intent on seizing Him. On one occasion, the Jewish leaders dispatched armed me to arrest Jesus. Those who had been sent to seize Him returned empty-handed. This is the account of their return. “The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why did you not bring him?’ The officers answered, ‘No one ever spoke like this man’” [JOHN 7:45 (quickview) , 46].


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