|Point Pleasant Park, Halifax|
This past week, I enjoyed attending our church’s drama production, “This Very Night: The Story Continues” as well as our Good Friday service. Both were very moving portrayals of the events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection. It was especially meaningful to see much of what I had written in last week’s post come “alive”. I became so wrapped up in everything I almost felt at times that I could have been there as I experienced emotions ranging from deep sorrow to rapturous joy. I remarked to one of the crew members mid-week, as he was removing part of the set, that although I really enjoy the Christmas production, I feel the Easter component is even more significant as it is the foundation of our Christian faith. At the Good Friday service, the theme was “At the Foot of the Cross” and there were several actors who performed monologues of characters who had actually witnessed Christ’s crucifixion – the disciple John, Mary the mother of Jesus, the Roman centurion who proclaimed, “Surely this was the Son of God!”[i], the thief who was crucified with Jesus and came to faith in Christ just before he died, Joseph of Arimathea who asked Pilate if he could bury Jesus in his own tomb, Simon who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross when He could bear it no longer – as they reflected on their thoughts, emotions, and responses while watching Christ crucified, it really made me think, “What might I have done had I really been there?”
As I wrote last week, there were many women present at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. They had to wait until the Sabbath was completed before they could return to the tomb with spices to anoint Jesus’ body. Mark’s account says, “Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’”[ii] This would have been of deep concern to them as they would not be strong enough to do it themselves (Mark states that the stone was very large). I wonder why they didn’t ask some of the men to accompany them for this purpose? Where had all Jesus’ disciples disappeared to anyhow? Were they too afraid to be seen or were they so distraught and disillusioned over the death of their Messiah that they couldn’t bear to go near the tomb?
We know from the Scriptures that the women were also afraid and filled with grief. Their fear and bewilderment was only magnified when they saw that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. Mary Magdalene went running to Peter and John crying, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!”[iii] Some of the other women dared to look into the tomb and discovered Jesus’ body was gone. Their confusion left them trembling.
|This Very Night: The Story Continues|
As if they weren’t afraid enough, suddenly angels in clothes that gleamed like lightning appeared to them. Although the four gospel accounts vary slightly in how many angels appeared and to whom, they all agree that the women were terrified. In each case, the angels were quick to reassure the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him. Now I have told you.”[iv]Luke adds, “Then they remembered His words”.[v]
Can you imagine with me as these women replayed some of Jesus’ words over in their minds? – “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day He will be raised to life.”[vi]; “But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”[vii]; “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live…”[viii]; “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”[ix]
Filled with fear, excitement, and joy, the women quickly ran to tell the disciples the good news. I think it’s rather typical that the men didn’t immediately believe the word of the women – they had to go and see for themselves! But, I think it’s really special that Jesus chose women to be the first to hear and see that He was indeed alive. He has chosen us to tell the good news of His resurrection and His saving grace. As I go this morning to celebrate with my church family, I will rejoice that I serve a living Saviour!
A Blessed Easter to all,