|The Tomb is Empty|
The ladies in their grief and shock begged to know where Jesus body was moved to. Why would someone take the body? I imagine their heartbreak turned to anger. First their hopes died on the cross. Jesus could not be the Messiah they waited for, not now that he was dead. Now they could not even anoint his body with the spices they had. It was their custom. It was part of grieving and honouring their dead. Someone had taken even that from them. Oh what relief it must have been to hear the words of the angels and remember Jesus words: He would be raised on the third day. Maybe their hope was not dead. Maybe.
Unfortunately the men did not believe the story told by the women. Why should they? They were all still grieving and everyone knew the testimony of women held no influence, not then. Perhaps they brushed it off as false hope of those who refused to give up hope of a long awaited Messiah. Perhaps they brushed it off as grief filled denial of the truth. In any case, it sounded like fictitious nonsense. But then there is Peter. At least one person did not dismiss the ramblings of the women. Grief filled, guilt ridden Peter. Could it be true? But the denial, the fear, even if this far fetched story was true, how could he face Jesus? Still he had to know, had to see for himself even though he knew the story told by the women was impossible.
Then the scene changes. The story moves from the tomb and the gathered mourners. The rod. The dusty road home. A part of the story I knew but did not think much about. Two men on a road is all I remembered even after reading this story many times. This time I lingered longer because instead of rushing ahead to Jesus appearing to His disciples our story this year paused to look at these two men. With centuries of church history and theologians studying the Scriptures, picking apart the nuances, the signs that could have been obvious it seems incredulous that the men did not recognise Jesus. Oh they might have the thought they had seen him at a distance in the crowd. They had no other context to aid their recognition and no expectation of meeting Jesus on the road even if the story of the women was true.
Cleopas, a name to match a downcast face, accused Jesus of being out of touch. How could anyone not know about the crucifixion? This was headline news. Crowds lined the route, as if watching a parade, to that horrible hill. The crosses still stood as a reminder of the terrible event. Then he summarised the events as if reporting for a newspaper but he included the quieter, hope crushing morning with the missing body.
But we would know better, wouldn't we. We would recognise Jesus from the first time we saw Him. How easy to claim those on the road, those who walked with Jesus should have understood. How arrogant to judge from our position of having Scripture explained from Moses and the prophets through Paul's letters and the Revelation of Jesus. This season I am celebrating the empty tomb, the victory over sin and death. I am also considering how different our perspective is than those who found the tomb. How fortunate for us they believed as they encountered Jesus and began to understand. How fortunate for us Jesus had the patience to explain again to His followers why this had to happen. Now we can celebrate: He is alive!