“When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:1-8, NRSV)
Why would the women go to the tomb of an executed criminal where Roman guards were posted? They risked their lives by simply going to the tomb. This was, after all, the place where the rabble-rousing, trouble causing Jesus of Nazareth was buried. Jesus who had defied the Jewish establishment and the Roman authorities. The act of going to the tomb was to risk the wrath of both. In a sermon written for Resurrection Sunday, Martin Luther wrote: “It was nothing but the great love they bore to the Lord, which had sunk so deeply into their hearts that for his sake they would have risked a thousand lives.” *
The women, although initially too terrified to speak, are the first to proclaim “Christ is Risen!” It is through the conquering of their fear that the world first learns of the Resurrection – the seminal moment in the history of mankind. “These women also show us a beautiful example of a spiritual heart that undertakes an impossible task, of which the whole world would despair. Yet a heart like this stands firm and accomplishes it, not thinking the task impossible.” *
Ok, so now we “know” about the Resurrection. Jesus has risen from the dead! But what does it mean for us? It means the end of death. Death no longer gets the last word. We are freed from the bondage of sin. We no longer owe a debt to God for our transgressions. We can boldly walk in the Light of the World. We no longer have to fear the darkness. We never walk alone – Jesus is with us. Our relationship with God our Father is restored. We are made new. No longer are we tainted by original sin. We are worthy to call Jesus “brother” and God “Father.” We profess that Jesus is Messiah, Savior, Redeemer and Lord. We live in the promise of eternal life. Our faith in the Risen Lord through the grace of God saves us! Alleluia!
Luther wrote: “But when I come to understand the fact that all the works God does in Christ are done for me, nay, they are bestowed upon and given to me, the effect of his resurrection being that I also will arise and live with him; that will cause me to rejoice. This must be brought home to our hearts, and we must not merely hear it with the ears of our body nor merely confess it with our mouth.” *
What Jesus accomplished on the cross and through his resurrection is poignantly recounted in Chris Tomlin’s song, “Jesus Messiah.” The words reveal the reality of the meaning of the Resurrection. Below is an acoustic video version of this incredibly powerful song. I encourage you to listen to the words, letting them sink deeply into your heart on this Easter day – the day of the Resurrection!
O God, our Creator and Father, we praise you for sending your only Son to suffer death on the cross for our salvation. In his resurrection, you have delivered us from the power of sin and death. Help us to remember daily that we are made new by the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. May we boldly proclaim Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, Savior of All! Amen
Have a blessed Easter,
Photo: “Peter von Cornelius [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.