|Angel tells women that Jesus has risen.|
The crucifixion was over and the crowds had dispersed across Jerusalem and out into the country. The people had been stirred with emotion, either in support of what had happened or vehemently opposed to the way Jesus had been treated. On earth, they either loved and adored Jesus or despised and rejected him.
In heaven, we knew that God's sacrificing his only begotten Son was God's loving plan for redeeming his people from their sins. God loved the world this much. Jesus, God's Divine Son understood and agreed to the terms. Jesus surrendered to God will, though Satan had tempting him to do otherwise.
From heaven, we watched in anguish as Jesus was tortured, taunted and hung on the cross to die. From noon until three in the afternoon, the sky darkened. About 3:00 p.m., Jesus cried out in a loud voice in Hebrew, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me."
Jesus cried out once more and then he "gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, but it was not yet my time to act. I waited and watched like a percussion player waiting for the orchestra conductor giving the signal for me to play my one small part.
Meanwhile, Joseph of Arimathea had asked for, and received, permission to take Christ's body and prepare it for burial. Nicodemus, the young wealthy man who had visited Jesus one night, and Joseph, who was a secret believer in Christ, worked together to give Jesus a proper Jewish burial. They lay the anointed body in the new, unused tomb that Joseph had recently built in a nearby garden.
Saturday, the Sabbath, was quiet. I waited for my cue.
Very early on Sunday morning, the chief priests and Pharisees had gone to Pilate with their concerns about the security of the tomb. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.'" The band of men asked Pilate to have the tomb safe-guarded until the third day, lest his disciples " . . . come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead."
Pilate ordered his men to secure the tomb by putting the Roman seal on the rock, thus warning that breaking the seal would be punishable by an unpleasant death. The soldiers went immediately to do as commanded and to stand guard.
The time had arrived for my part in God's plan. As Matthew says in his gospel, "There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone . . ." That was me!
The soldiers were unprepared for what had happened next. The stone rolled away and the tomb was empty except for Jesus' burial cloths. Coming out of the tomb, the soldiers saw me, and they looked like they were seeing a ghost. In a flash, they were gone. That part of my work was done, so I sat on the big rock moved by the quake.
A short while later, just after sunrise, several women came to the tomb. They came prepared with spices for anointing Jesus' body. On their way, they wondered, "Who will roll the stone from the entrance of the tomb?"
They were also surprised to see the rock moved and me sitting on it. Jumping down from the rock, I told them, "Don't be alarmed . . . You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here." I may have said an Alleluia or two, because I was pretty excited. I invited them to see the place where the men had laid their Lord.
|Empty Tomb |
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Then I commanded them, as I was instructed, to go and tell his disciples and Peter, "He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you."
So that's how my special job played out. I'm humbled and happy to have had a small part in God's plan. Alleluia! Jesus is risen. Alleluia!