- 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.” (John 20:1-2)
It was early Sunday morning. . . .
Mary Magdalene came pray and watch at the tomb of Jesus.
But the stone had been rolled away. . .
and the tomb was EMPTY!!!!!!
The body of Jesus was missing. An empty tomb surely meant someone had stolen the body of her Lord.
At least that’s how things looked to Mary.
Jesus was dead, now His body stolen, and His enemies were probably already planning to wipe out all His other followers.
Apparently the world of love and forgiveness, peace and inclusion that Jesus’ followers’ cherished had come to an end upon the Cross. Christ had apparently failed them, and instead of being the divine Son of God, and King of the Jews, He was nothing but an ordinary man, convicted of treason and crucified like a common criminal.
Everything seemed hopeless – all the promised, all the miracle, all the joy was to be no more.
It is hard to fully imagine what they must have felt those three days of Jesus’ death: hopelessness, despair, grief, betrayal.
Their leader had been discredited.
BUT. . . .
They soon learned that the promises were true – the dead Jesus was alive. He had broken the bonds of death and human frailty.
The tomb was empty because Jesus lived once more.
Hope could not be crushed by a wooden cross, or an empty tomb, or legions of Roman soldiers, or even by disappointed followers. The life, teachings and love of Jesus would live forever – as long as we do!
On this Easter Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus because we are reminded that ‘He did not die’. As He promised us, on the third day He did rise from the dead. And as he promised, we will be with him in paradise, beyond pain and suffering, beyond cruelty and death – in perfection!
In 1932, Mary Elizabeth Frye wrote the following poem for Margaret Schwarzkopf, a Jewish friend whose mother was dying in Germany and could not return to Germany to visit her because of anti-Semitic feelings there. It has lasted through the ages because of the sentiment and hope it contains.
- Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight, I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there.
I did not die.
Jesus also promises those who believe in Him will not die. Although our mortal bodies may cease to exist, our souls and spirits will continue.
So this Easter Day, as we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, let us remember the last few lines of the poem:
- Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there.
I did not die.
Nor shall we –
Alleluia! Alleluia! Give Thanks To The Risen Lord. Alleluia! Alleluia! Give Praise To His Name!
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 24 April 2011