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Lent Reflections
Easter Day, April 1, 2018
John 20:1-18

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. Then the disciples returned to their homes.


But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord;" and she told them that he had said these things to her.


Each of the four gospels in the New Testament tells the Easter story with different details. Different people go to the tomb of Jesus at sunrise on Sunday. Different things happen; different things are said. I find those variations to strengthen the veracity of the biblical witness. What would be suspicious would be all the stories relating the same details. The same event is often reported by various people in various ways. The details are shaped by what we expect to see and what needs we bring with us.


No account of the actual resurrection is given in any of the gospels. Nothing is said about how it happened or even when it happened. There is nothing recorded about the time between Friday afternoon when the body of Jesus was laid in the tomb, and Sunday morning. What is consistent through all accounts is that the tomb was empty.


The story of the resurrection is told through the eyes of those who found the tomb empty. They came mostly looking for death. They came out of a sense of obligation. In some cases they came looking for an opportunity to mourn the loss of one they loved. What they found instead was the joy of life.


On Easter morning once again we will come to the tomb of Jesus. We know the story so well that maybe our sense of wonder and expectation is dulled. But the glorious good news is proclaimed once more. The tomb is empty. The message of resurrection, new hope, and life will be spread to the world around us by what we find, what we see. How will our lives be changed?

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