Into the garden steal three women in solemn garb with jars of spices in their hands and sorrow in their hearts, for they were there to prepare the tortured body of their dearly loved Jesus for burial, something they hadn't had a chance to do the day before, because it was the Sabbath. They were discussing among themselves who was going to roll away the huge stone that covered the entrance of that cold, hard, dark tomb, as tears wet their cheeks.
In a dark room deep in the city, 11 men kept careful watch through curtained windows that they not be seen for fear the Jews would put them to death as they did their teacher and friend. Deep mourning gripped their hearts as they wept and each one remembered the last three horror filled days and nights, still trying to wrap their minds around what had just happened and wondering where they were going to go from here.
Another group of men arose as well, put on their religious garb and began their day, congratulating one another, secure in the knowledge that they have silenced the heretic who had been challenging them and stirring up people against them. They could now go on without worry their position of power would be removed from them or the wrath of Cesar be taken out on them for not controlling the masses. It may have taken unconventional means to get it done, but it was finished, nevertheless.
In the streets the merchants opened their shops, servants ran to do the bidding of their masters, Roman soldiers patrolled the streets while groups of men sat at the city gates discussing the weekend's events being cautious to make sure their eyes didn't meet the soldier's and draw attention to themselves. Women swept their houses and got kids ready for the day, leaning out their windows and discussing the same thing the men were talking about. If they were followers of the way, they shook their heads in disbelief that this could have even happened, wondering where Jesus' disciples were and what they were going to do next. If they were those who had screamed for His death, they were gloating over their success or maybe feeling guilty that they had gotten caught up in the mob mentality that had ruled the day. Then there were those who just didn't care one way or the other. They just wanted to go about their business, leaving others alone and wanting to be left alone.
What none of them knew, was that in a few short minutes, an event would happen that was going to change for the world, seen and unseen, for eternity! The ground began to tremble, then roll from the earthquake being caused as a strong, burly angel as bright as lightening ascended from heaven rolled the stone away from the face of that grave, and the Son of God emerged, healthy and whole with the exception of nail scars on His hands and feet, and very much ALIVE! The Roman guards sent to watch over the tomb, having been blinded by the brightness of the angel and frightened to death, lay on the ground in a dead faint. The angel took up his place sitting on the stone he had just removed as two others took their stations, one at the head of where their Master had just risen from and the other at the foot, awaiting the women who were picking themselves up from the ground, making sure the jars they carried weren't broken. Jesus, walked away to enjoy the beauty of the fresh morning in the garden and look forward to surprising a very unsuspecting women!
In town, the disciples were also shaken from their mourning for a moment, but not remembering what their Lord and said to them just days earlier about His 'rebuilding the temple in 3 days'. The merchants grumbled about the merchandise that had been damaged and swept up the remnants. The religious leaders thought about how they could spin this to their advantage as a message from God they had made the right move, the women comforted the children and the believers wondered just what else could possibly happen to make things worse than they already were.
We all know what happened next. The women, arriving at the tomb, find not the body of Jesus, but a very live angel, telling them He isn't there and to go tell the disciples to meet Him in Galilee. Leaving the tomb quickly, afraid but with joy filling their hearts, they run to tell the disciples this unbelievable news. Which is just what they did, not believe! Peter and John go flying out of their hiding spot and to the garden where just two nights before they had failed to stay awake and pray as Jesus had asked them, to lend Him their comfort on the worst night of their best friend's life. To be followed by a nightmare of an illegal trial and cruel death on a Roman cross, no chance to say I'm sorry, no chance to say goodbye...but now, redemption? Was what He had tried to tell so many times true? John gets there first, stopping short, but Peter as usual rushes in, finding only the grave clothes, still not understanding what had happened. It took Jesus appearing to them several times and explaining the scriptures for them to finally get it. It took the angels reminding the women what He had told them about being crucified and rising the third day for them to understand. It took Jesus' personal explanation to the two followers on the road to Emmaus that this had been God the Father's plan from the beginning, and had been put down in the scriptures since the start of history, right there for all to see! But the religious leaders paid off the soldiers to keep them quiet, told them to lie about what had happened and went on twisting God's word for their own gain. The regular people swept up the mess as best they could and went on. The scoffers continued to scoff at those who said they had seen Jesus, the people who didn't care either way went right on not caring.
So the question is, which one are you? Are you remembering Him as man dying on a cross, dead in a tomb, fruitlessly preparing spices to anoint His body and cry over him, looking for the living among the dead? Working, working, working continuously to prove you're worthy? He is ALIVE! He has poured out His grace on you and given you the GIFT of salvation for free! God's Riches At Christ's Expense - G R A C E! Do as they did when they finally remembered what He had said. REJOICE! Serve Him out of delight, not duty!
Are you the frightened disciple, hiding in a room, afraid to share what He did for you? That He suffered and died for your sins and for the others who are wandering around the world, lost and looking for the hope that YOU have? Do as they did and remember God hasn't given you a spirit of fear! Obey Him. They left that room and went to Galilee like He told them, where He breathed on them, gave them the Holy Spirit and a commission to GO to ALL the world and preach the gospel! Give the Good News! Make disciples! Teach them! Baptize them! Give them that blessed hope they are so desperately searching for.
Are you one of those religious leaders who think you have it all together? That you're better than others because you look perfect on the outside, dress right, say the right things, but twist the Word of God because you keep to the letter of the law rather that it's intent? That you get to judge all those others who don't live up to the standards you yourself can't live up to? To put the Son of the very God you claim to serve to death by covering up all dead men's bones you have inside covered with the 'clothing' of piety, religiousity and legalism? Repent! Get rid of the self righteous attitude and accept the LIVING sacrifice that was given for you, so you too may live! Drop the dead deeds and revel in the deLIGHT!
Or maybe you say, I'm just a normal person, living a normal life and as long as I do the best I can and treat others right, obey the Golden Rule and do my best to live according to the Ten Commandments, I can hope I've done enough to get me into heaven. Ok, if that's so, and there is some way we can do it on our own, answer me this. Why did Jesus ever have to die? You CAN'T do it on your own. You'll NEVER be good enough, or do enough good things. But the good news is, HE can! The power that raised Him from the dead can raise YOU from the dead, because right now, that's what you are, dead. Dead in your trespasses and sins because you've not admitted to God or yourself that you can't get there on your own. Jesus suffered and died because of YOUR SIN, He willing went there for you. He has loved you with an everlasting love and all you have to do to get it, is ASK! Admit to Him and yourself that you can' do it on your own, that you're stuck in that filthy black mess that covers you. Ask Him to use that blood He shed on the cross for YOU to wash you and make you whiter than fresh fallen snow reflecting in the brilliant SON!
Or maybe your one of the scoffers, or you just don't care one way or the other, or one who revels in the evil you do. The Bible speaks of you as well.
The Coming Day of the Lord
2 Peter 3:3 - 10"3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For [a]when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and [b]its works will be [c]burned up." The day is coming, when the scoffers will be silenced. When those who don't care one way or another will WISH they had cared! When those who insist on reveling in their evil ways that they think are so fun and satisfying now, will reap the rewards of living that life for eternity. Your fate will be sealed and there will be no chance of repentance! You have no idea what you're missing. You have no idea the healing that Jesus brings, the feeling of security, peace, cleanness, joy, love! The things the enemy is promising you are empty baubles that shine brightly for a time but leave you feeling unsure, unsettled, filthy, empty and unloved when it's all over. He's waiting for you. He's not willing that ANY should perish! Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels. Judgement will come, and there's only one way to escape it!
So consider that first resurrection day. Many people had their lives changed forever by that one, unbelievably beautiful moment! But that One amazing person who defeated death for ALL of us! But to many others, it was just a normal day to do normal things and be normal people, totally missing out on what that moment could have meant for them. My prayer for you is that on THIS resurrection day, you will see yourself for where you are and what you are. If that is as a follower of Jesus Christ who's life has been forever changed by that moment in time, then I rejoice with you! If it is one who has lost their way and never experienced the true meaning of this day, I PRAY you will make this not only the resurrection day of our Lord Jesus, but YOUR resurrection day! He is coming soon, the first-born of the dead, the one who died to give us life. Are you ready?