Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Finding the Unexpected at an Empty Tomb

Easter is almost here....this Sunday is the big day.  Today, the day when I am writing this entry, is April 1, April Fool's Day.  This is the day when you are supposed to play a trick on someone and then yell "April Fool!" Many love to fool others and many hate to be fooled.  I guess that is why this day exists--to see who you can fool and how they will respond when they find out they have been fooled.  When I was a kid, it had more to do with dropping a fake spider on or in front of someone and watching them yell.  Today the tricks can be done in many ways, thanks to modern technology.

If April Fool's Day had existed in Bible days, specifically after Jesus had died on the cross and was buried in the tomb, then I bet the women who went to the tomb on Easter Sunday would have been waiting for someone to pop out from behind a bush and yell, "April Fool" at them.  They would have shrieked, most likely, and when they have recovered from their panic, they would have asked, "Where did you take his body?"

How ironic, but that is one of the questions that the first visitors to the tomb asked on that first Easter morning.  "Where have you taken the body?"  As if, someone had taken Jesus' body elsewhere to play a trick on others.  As if, someone had kidnapped the dead body of Jesus for political reasons.  That is exactly what the Jewish religious authorities told their followers to say in reaction to the news that Jesus had risen from the dead.  Tell everyone that his followers kidnapped his body and have hidden it to make people think that he has risen from the dead.

We all need a good story to cover up the truth.  That is why people lie on the witness stand during trials even when they have taken an oath to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth".  Easier said than done at times.  So, Jesus' body was gone and no one could say where it went but the women (in ancient days women were not to be belief is an equal opportunity principle) had told a story that heavenly beings told them that Jesus had risen from the dead.  They were to take the good news to Jesus' followers who had hidden from the authorities lest they be the next ones to die.  The women became so frantic with this assignment that Mark says they "fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." (Mark 16:8)

So, the ones given the assignment to tell the good news were hush-hush because of fear.  How long they kept quiet is not revealed by Mark.  We do know that the other gospel writers tell us that Peter and John and soon all the disciples had it revealed to them that Jesus was alive through Jesus' own appearances to them.  They experienced the risen Christ among them.  Jesus appeared in his new heavenly body that could walk through walls but still eat a piece of fish.  How amazing is that!

When we experience the unexpected, we often do not know how to react.  Some believe that the unexpected has a supernatural source.  Some doubt.  Some have fear.  Some seek more truth and explore what could be behind it, seeking a reasonable and rational solution.  Some decide to just leave it up to God and trust God for the truth to emerge.  Whatever our reaction to what we cannot explain, we can depend on God to bring us reassurance of God's presence with us.  That presence was the spirit of Jesus with the disciples after his resurrection.  Nothing less than the presence of Jesus could satisfy those who had known him in his bodily presence.  God gave to each one what they needed to satisfy their emotional needs.

The resurrected Christ is among us through the Holy Spirit that ministers to us.  The Season of Easter begins on Easter Sunday and continues until Pentecost and during that season we learn what it means to be followers of the Christ who lives among us daily.  May the blessings of Easter be yours both this Sunday and throughout the days to come as we live and rejoice in the truth of the resurrection revealed through Christ for each of us.

Happy Easter!

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