9th April 2023
It is not easy to understand what happened on that first Easter morning, to comprehend what happened when Jesus rose from the dead. Mary when she first discovers that the tomb stone has been moved, assumes that the body has been stolen – maybe by someone/ some group who wants to despoil his body. Many people considered Jesus to be a criminal, an opponent of the true Hebrew faith. Simon Peter and the other disciple want to check for themselves – are there clues that Mary has overlooked?
The discarded grave clothes and the folded head cloth don’t suggest grave robbers or people seeking revenge. But nor do they suggest a resurrection such as they had witnesses when Jesus had called Lazarus out from his tomb. Then it had been necessary for others to unbind Lazarus.
The writer says that the disciples believed but did not as yet understand. I wonder what at that moment they believed? Mary for her part still feels that someone has taken Jesus’s body away. She returns to the tomb, and despite the angels’s presence still fears someone has removed the body. It is only when Christ calls to her that she recognises what has happened.
Sometimes when we are in a dark place, when we are troubled or under stress, we find it hard to see God’s presence, to find anything to be happy about. We, like Mary, need to called, need to be told that we are loved. The joy of Easter doesn’t always come at the Easter vigil or at the Dawn service. Sometimes it doesn’t always come to us on Easter Day, but Christ is always there, loving us and caring for us and waiting for that moment when we are able to hear his voice.
The words from Jeremiah remind us that God’s love is endless, always seeking us out, always wanting to rebuild our lives so that we can be full of joy and contentment.
The essence of resurrection is new life, life that is renewed and restored, life that continues for ever in the everlasting flow of love and renewal that is the nature of God.
An alternative translating of Jeremiah from The Message
“And when that happens”—God’s Decree—
“it will be plain as the sun at high noon:
I’ll be the God of every man, woman, and child in Israel
and they shall be my very own people.”
* * *
This is the way God put it:
“They found grace out in the desert,
these people who survived the killing.
Israel, out looking for a place to rest,
met God out looking for them!”
God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again,
dear virgin Israel.
You’ll resume your singing,
grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.
You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards
on the Samaritan hillsides,
And sit back and enjoy the fruit—
oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests!
The time’s coming when watchmen will call out
from the hilltops of Ephraim:
‘On your feet! Let’s go to Zion,
go to meet our God!’”
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; *
his mercy endures for ever.
2 Let Israel now proclaim, *
“His mercy endures for ever.”
14 The Lord is my strength and my song, *
and he has become my salvation.
15 There is a sound of exultation and victory *
in the tents of the righteous:
16 “The right hand of the Lord has triumphed! *
the right hand of the Lord is exalted!
the right hand of the Lord has triumphed!”
17 I shall not die, but live, *
and declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord has punished me sorely, *
but he did not hand me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; *
I will enter them;
I will offer thanks to the Lord.
20 “This is the gate of the Lord; *
he who is righteous may enter.”
21 I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *
and have become my salvation.
22 The same stone which the builders rejected *
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing, *
and it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 On this day the Lord has acted; *
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Peter began to speak to Cornelius and the other Gentiles: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed 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.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who 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 returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other 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.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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 Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because 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 she told them that he had said these things to her.