The women came to the tomb in the crepuscular dawn with desolation in their hearts. They came with spices, in sorrow, to anoint the body they know they will find.
But they do not find it. They do not find him. There at the tomb they do not find the body of their Lord. They find only an impossible word.
You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen. He is not here.
The first Easter day begins in darkness and in the shadow of death.The first response to the empty tomb was not joy, but grief and confusion. “My Lord is gone; I do not know where,” Mary says. She runs to the disciples; they run to the tomb; they run back to the other disciples; Mary comes back to the tomb and lingers there in distress. Chaos and confusion and distress at dawn on the first Easter Day. And this is curious.
Woman, why are you weeping? For God is doing a new thing. Christ is risen. Alleluia! Christ is risen, and the world will never be the same. In all times of suffering, in all places of darkness, even and finally at our grave, God is with us. God is with us in Christ, with us to love and to save.
To want the good of others is part of the air we breathe, at least in theory. We assume it, as if this is what people have always naturally thought. But they have not and – make no mistake – there are many who do not still. Faith, hope, and love – these three abide.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” Jesus completely reverses the direction of their thinking. It’s not about turning inwards and protecting your communal interests. It’ about turning in another direction, to those beyond Israel’s borders, to those who could never have hoped for membership in God’s kingdom.