"It's over," one of them said, sadness mingled with disgust, as they walked away from His tomb, as they made the longest walk in the world, the walk away from the grave of one you loved so much.
"I can even bear it" another said. "The last three years; it all seems so pointless now, I'm not sure I understand any of it...none, nothing. Let's go home." And so off they went. For emotional support, some of them gathered in a house in Jerusalem to cry on one another's shoulders. And cry they did...long, heaving cries, soul-anguished sobs, the kind of weeping that doesn't stop until the eyes run out of tears and the body's strength is finally spent.
On the morning of the third day, a few of the women rose early to go make the trek to the tomb, with hopes of anointing His body. "We won't be able to move the stone," said Salome, "but perhaps we can just sit next to it and mourn and talk about Him, and just leave the spices and oils there as a way to say 'we loved you so much.'" They stopped for a minute, again overcome with grief, and wept. They thought of another tomb, months ago, where Lazarus once was, where Jesus wept.
"There was no one like him," Mary Magdalene said, "ever. Where was God in all this? On vacation?"
"Hush, don't even go there," said the other Mary. "It only makes the pain worse." And for the rest of the walk to the tomb they said nothing.
Upon arrival they were astonished to find the stone rolled away. Gobsmacked might be a better term! Or maybe...stupefied, shocked beyond imagination, stunned, startled, terrified, weak-kneed. Well, maybe there aren't any words that work; no words truly descriptive of all the feelings that rushed in like a flood, as if driven by a mighty emotional storm.
The sun was beginning to peek over the the Eastern horizon, providing just enough light to enter the tomb...just enough light to see its emptiness, bareness...just enough to see a crumpled shroud laying on a rock ledge where Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had placed HIs body late on Friday.
Suddenly their speechlessness was interrupted by the appearance of a magnificent angel. They dropped to their knees, terrified. "Don't be afraid," the angel said (which is what angels always say!...yet we are!). "Listen to me. He is not here; He is risen. Now go and tell the others. Go!"
He didn't have to tell them twice. They tripped over themselves trying to get out of there! It was the kind of tripping that only life-changing news or paralyzing fear causes. In this case it was the former. (It was also likely the first four-minute mile in history!)
Breathless, as one might expect, they burst into the house where the others were staying back in Jerusalem. Screaming in discordant stereo they cried out, "It's empty! Jesus is gone! The angel! Risen!...Alive! Alive! ALIVE!" And THAT, my friends, changed the world...and me...and you...forever.
Happy Easter, dear ones. Happy Easter indeed!