“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
Easter. I love this holiday. I love the chocolate and the flowers and the sunshine. But I love it most because this weekend is central to what I believe, central to the faith that I build my life around. This is the day we celebrate the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice that saves us.
Last week I learnt of the death of someone I’ve known for almost twenty years. A wonderful Christian woman who there wasn’t a bad thing to say about. A woman well-loved, surrounded by people who wanted to spend many more years with her. It seems so unfair. As I went through the week and sat in a church service on Good Friday, it didn’t feel like death had been defeated.
Our pastor read out to us, in that Good Friday service, the final words that Jesus spoke before He died on the cross. One of those statements was to the thief who was crucified next to Him.
He said, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
I know that this woman, who once made me chocolate cupcakes shaped like swans, is in Paradise with Jesus today. Right this minute.
And while we grieve here and now, our sorrow is temporary. In this way, death has not won. Death has not separated us from our Lord.
For a weekend each year, we are close to death. To that ultimate and inconceivable sacrifice that Jesus made for us. I understand it and yet I don’t. This Easter, I feel an extra compassion for Mary Magdalene, who found the tomb empty and wept.
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.
Mary wept for the death of her friend and teacher. She wept because, like each of us when faced with death, we do not understand. We mourn our loss and we see only a terrible finality where, in fact, something wonderful has begun.
We linger among the dead when we are actually looking for those who are alive again.
God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.