Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”-and that he had said these things to her.
Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Growing up, I was always taught that Easter was the most important celebration in all of Christianity. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events and a foundation of the Christian faith. Whether Jesus rose from the dead is the most critical question regarding the Christian faith. The resurrection of Jesus was part of the plan of salvation and redemption by atonement for humankind’s sins.
For Jesus’ mother, his disciples, and his followers, Jesus’ death was a tragedy. When I think of the arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, I always think of how terrified his disciples must have been. Rome was the greatest authority in the known world for them, and Jesus had been arrested by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin, the representatives of Imperial Rome’s authority in Judaea. They had to be asking themselves: Would they be next? Would they be tried and crucified? What would become of them? How could they go on without their leader and Savior?
Even though Jesus told them he would be resurrected, the disciples did not understand. In John 2:19, Jesus “said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’” The disciples thought he was speaking literally of the Temple, but John 2:21 tells us, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” Even if they believed that Jesus would rise from the dead, they thought he was speaking of living in eternity in Heaven with his Father or of a literal rebuilding of the Temple. It was not until they saw him in the flesh that they believed in a literal resurrection. So, the fear of his death was real. They were in a heightened state of fear during this time.
They felt that all their hopes were lost. We today can face the same feeling. Many times in life, with homophobic politicians, the increasing rise of anti-gay homophobic groups, laws, and censorship, and everything that is going on in the world — war, famine, disease, natural disasters, discrimination, and hate — there can be a loss of hope and faith. Yet the resurrection gives us hope that no matter what has happened in our lives, no matter how much faith and hope we have lost, we can experience hope, and we can overcome and regain whatever we have lost in our lives.
Our hope includes the knowledge that evil does not win. Sometimes today, it seems that the bad guy often wins. Sometimes it seems that the one who cheats, the one who lies, the one who steps on others to get ahead, is the one who prospers. Far too often, I read of this person cheating or that one (or catching a student cheating) or another kid, gay or otherwise, who has been bullied, lost hope, and committed suicide. How often do we read of politicians cheating or working to make sure their businesses get a good contract? It seems that there is no hope for the little guy, the one who lives right, to ever get ahead.
With a positive attitude that through God we can accomplish anything, we truly can make the world a better place. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus told his disciples, “With God all things are possible.” With the hope that springs eternal, just as the flowers in spring show the rebirth of the earth, we can be assured that God’s promises will deliver a better day, a rebirth for our faith. The promise that Jesus would rise from the grave on the third day is remembered every Easter Sunday; it is the greatest sacrifice God could give for our sins. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” When we are baptized, it is done in symbolic reverence as our old body dies in its watery grave to be reborn and rise from the dead as Christ did for our sins.
Spring is a time of rebirth and hope. The world is coming alive again after the cold desolation of winter. Many of the symbols of Easter are also of rebirth and hope. Happy Easter, and hang in there. Just as the disciples had their darkest days between the death of Christ and his resurrection, the world often goes through periods of dark times, but good will prevail.
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