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 towards 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.
The accounts of Christ’s resurrection on
Easter morning as given by the four Evangelists vary in details but agree on
the essential points. Some women, the leader amongst them being Mary Magdalene,
came to the tomb early on Sunday morning to anoint the dead body with spices,
in order to help preserve it. This anointing had been done very hastily on the
Friday because of the Sabbath which began at sundown. The tomb was found open
and empty. The first thought of the women was that somebody had stolen the
corpse. This shows how far resurrection was from their minds. Hey went in haste
to tell the disciples.
Peter and John ran to the tomb. When they
found the winding sheet and the cloth that covered the head lying there, they
realized that the body had not been stolen or taken away because why should the
linen coverings have been removed. We should understand the verse, “He saw and
believed…” that Peter had been the first to believe and then John. It seems the
meaning here is not that John believed in contrast to Peter. Until this moment
both Peter and John had not understood the scriptures which had foretold his
resurrection. In fact, neither had they believed Christ’s own prophecies of his
resurrection – it seemed to be something which could not happen.
The fact of the Resurrection stressed by
all four Evangelists was the basis of the new Christian faith. Had it not
happened, Christianity would have been stillborn. It would have disappeared
from Jerusalem and the world on that first Easter Sunday. Peter and his
companions would have returned to their fishing nets and boats on Lake
Genesareth, and Christ the good and the kind man who had helped so many would
have been forgotten in half a generation.
But Christ was no mere man of kindly acts
and words of wisdom. He was the Messiah promised for centuries. He was the
suffering servant foretold by Isaiah whose perfect obedience to his Father had
led him to the cross and the grave. But above all, he was the Son of God who had
emptied himself of his divine glory in order to be the perfect human servant of
the Father, and who was now raised by the Father, with his divine glory
restored, and his glorified resurrected body sharing in that glory.
This was the divine plan of God for
mankind, through Christ, and because of Christ, the new Adam’s obedience, all
mankind would be made worthy of divine son-ship and daughter-ship. And worthy
of one day rising like Christ from the grave in glorified bodies.
Therefore, today, the Easter Sunday, let us
thank God once more for Easter and for all that it means of us. Our personal
Easter morning is not far away from even the youngest amongst us. We have a few
Calvaries to climb perhaps in the meantime but what are they when we see our
glorious Easter on the horizon? Amen.