In one way, the Passover following the crucification of Jesus Christ was unique. All those who came from different places to Jerusalem to observe the Passover were bewildered. For the close friends of Jesus, they were at their dead end. They thought they had no future to live with. Fear and defeat was their share. Many of them saw what happened at Calvary. They saw how they put Him to rest in the garden tomb marked for dignitaries. As soon as Jesus was officially declared dead, His secret friends, Joseph of Aremathea and Nicodemus, one who had night encounter with Him a few years ago came together to claim the dead body. Nicodemus brought enormous amount of expensive embalming spices and also long winding sheets of pure white linen. The body was wrapped in layers with lavish amount of spices. The head was wound separately like a turban.
The women waited anxiously the Sabbath to pass. Hardly, they slept that night, preparing the spices to anoint the body of their Master in the grave. By dawn, of the last watch; still dark, hurried to the Garden tomb, not knowing how to enter the tomb. The tomb was closed with a heavy stone and sealed with a Roman seal. Anybody opening a Roman seal would cost him with life. When they arrived, we are not told whether they had seen the guard but the tomb was already opened by rolling away the heavy stone. They only saw two men standing there and telling them that Jesus was no longer there and invited them to see for themselves. They were told to go and tell the disciples. They ran back to where they came from and blurted out to Peter and John. Without any more communication, Peter and John started running to the grave. John as a young man ran faster than Peter and reached first. But he was just looking inside the tomb. Peter panting and with heavy breath reached and straight away entered the tomb. John followed him. Younger people can run faster but requires the leading of the slow elderly. We commonly say the tomb was empty but it was not so. In the original language, it said , “the wrappings were as they were”. Which means, all the wrappings were lying in the same place, as empty cocoon and turban. The opening of the grave was not merely to release Him but to reveal that He is alive.
Mary Magdalene came back and stood outside the grave sobbing softly. Two angels standing in the grave asked her why she was crying. She replied, her Master had been taken away and she did not know and where to find him. As she turned around, she saw a man standing there and assuming him to be the gardener, sobbingly she pleaded to tell her where they had taken him, so that she can take care of him. Jesus then called her by her name, “Mary”. The voice was the same old voice. It was familiar, tender, sweet and reassuring. It was He. “Rabboni” she exclaimed, “My Lord, My Master”. In rapture recognition, she wanted to touch Him but she was not permitted to do so. She hurriedly ran back to the disciples and told them that she had seen Jesus. And she had spoken to Him. He is alive. What good news for the disciples!
To cut short, for the next forty days, He met them individually, in a crowd, in small group in small rooms, on the Sea shore, ate with them to demonstrate to them that He is alive. As the crowd watched Him go to Heaven, He assured them that as they saw Him going up, in the same way, He will come back. Yes “ He is alive”. As we celebrate the Easter, let us be sure that He lives with us even in times like today under the thread of Coronavirus. Happy Easter.
Dr.L M Murry
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