Easter Sunday Easter Sunday by hkksew3563rd


									    Easter Sunday
The Lectionary provides for some flexibility in terms of the Gospel on Easter Sunday
morning: the presider is able to choose either the proper text (from John’s Gospel),
or the Gospel proclaimed the night before, during the Easter Vigil. For celebrations
later in the day (late afternoon or early evening), the Gospel of “the road to
Emmaus” (from Luke) is also offered as a choice. Because of the demands of space, I
will only comment here on the first two options (Matthew and John).
                                   Matthew 28:1-10
 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord,
descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like
lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead
men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus
who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he
lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is
going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left
the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them
and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then
Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see

                                        John 20:1-9
 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 toward 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.

                         T T T T T
                                   Matthew 28:1-10
Matthew’s telling of Easter Sunday morning makes several key points. Firstly, the women come to
the tomb specifically after the Sabbath; they are therefore shown to be faithful Jews who have
observed the Sabbath properly. Secondly, the inclusion of Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary”
(presumably the mother of James and Joseph; see Matt 27:56) stresses continuity: these are the same
two women who saw Jesus die and witnessed His burial. There is, therefore, no room for
confusion about whether or not they have gone to the right tomb. The fact of their presence here,
however, is both an asset and a liability: on one hand, ancient Jewish law required the evidence of
two witnesses to corroborate an assertion; on the other hand, Jewish law normally excluded
women from giving evidence in court cases, since they were considered unreliable and too
emotional to serve as trustworthy witnesses. The presence of women is one of the strong
arguments in favour of the historicity of the Resurrection (in the face of some radical skeptics): as
many scholars have pointed out, if the early Christians really wanted to “create” a piece of fiction
that would be believable, they would never have chosen women as the primary witnesses in male-
dominated Mediterranean cultures. Their presence there (and in various configurations, there are
women at the tomb in each of the Gospels) would have been something of an embarrassment to
the early Christians—unless, of course, they really were there, and the evangelists were compelled
to include them, simply because that was “the way it happened”.
“The first day of the week”: reflecting the Jewish calendar, for whom Saturday was the Sabbath
and Sunday was the beginning of the week. Gradually, this usage will give way to calling Sunday
“the seventh day” (in some early Christian and patristic texts, “the eighth day”!), and Monday will
become “the first day of the week”. Some source critics have suggested that this vocabulary may
point to a very early tradition. Unlike Mark and Luke, Matthew does not make any reference to
the women’s intention to anoint (embalm with spices) the body of Jesus.
“They went to see the tomb” : the Greek verb used here (theoreô) is not the most common verb for
“seeing”. It has, rather, a nuance of experiencing via the senses, of grasping and understanding what is
perceived (it is from this verb that we get various English words associated with the experimental
sciences, such as theory and theoretical). They go, perhaps, to allow the reality of Jesus’ death to
“sink in,” to “come to grips” with the events of the previous 48 hours, to begin the process of
mourning. They go intending to experience death, and instead they experience life.
        “The Marys did not discover the resurrection in the same way that Marie Curie discovered
        radioactivity or Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding. The women did not
        begin with a hypothesis; they did not make careful observations and mathematical calculations.
        Nor was their discovery a colossal accident, like Columbus setting out for Asia and bumping
        into Santo Domingo. Nor was theirs a sudden insight furnished by ‘feminine intuition.’ Nor
        did the Muse of Poetry whisper in their ears that he whom they had loved was not dead, but
        lived eternally.
        The so-called discovery was an act of divine revelation. The Easter journey of the Marys
        took them to the place where God pulled aside the curtain and let them have first peek.
        Knowledge of the resurrection came to those who went adventuring, true. But it came through
        no wit or wisdom of their own. It was given to them, like a gift. The resurrection story is indeed
        that of a discovery; but that discovery might with justification be better termed a disclosure.”
        (“God with a Human Face,” by John C. Purdy; online)
All of the Gospels speak of the great stone already rolled back from the entrance to the tomb , but
Matthew is unique in speaking of the angel who descends from heaven (accompanied by a great
earthquake), who rolls back the stone and then sits on it. The brightness of his face and the
whiteness of his robes mark him out as a heavenly messenger, from another realm (see the similar
description in Rev 1:14, and in the accounts of the Transfiguration). We know from the end of ch.
27 that Pilate had permitted the Temple authorities to place a guard at the tomb site; in v.4, we see
them overcome with fear in the face of such clearly supernatural phenomenon; “they become like
dead men”. Note the (perhaps ironic) contrast: those who are alive become “as if dead”; the One

  Matthew is the only Gospel to use the Greek verb taphos (as in “cenotaph, epitaph”; used 7x in the NT) as a description
for the grave of Jesus; in most other places, it is referred to as a mnêmeion (“tomb”, 40x in the NT).
  It is interesting to note that almost identical Greek vocabulary is used in the Septuagint translation of Gen 29:10, in which
“when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban, his mother’s brother, Jacob
came and rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered the sheep of Laban, his mother’s brother”. Matthew
seems to be deliberately employing a parallelism here. What might be his reason for doing so? Gen 29 is almost the only
place in the whole Old Testament where this verb of “rolling away” a stone is used, and the same Greek verb is used there
and in Matthew. (The only other OT occurrence is in Judith 13:9, in which Judith rolls the dead body of Holofernes off her
bed onto the floor).
who was dead will be seen as alive! If these are imperial guards sent by Pilate, this is perhaps one
more “dig” at the power claimed by the Empire and its representatives—which is shown to be
nothing in contrast with the far greater and truer power of God at work in Jesus. It is perhaps
appropriate that a group of soldiers—akin to those who had tortured Jesus and mocked His
weakness in the hours before His death—should be among the first to be struck by the evidence of
His victory and strength. Note the reference to the earthquake (Gk seismos) which takes place,
paralleling the earthquake spoken of at the time of Jesus’ death.
Interestingly, the angel’s words of comfort are directed, not to the terrified soldiers, but to the
women. “Do not be afraid”: a phrase common in the Gospels (used in Matthew in 10:28, 14:27,
17:7, here, and again in 28:10) in the immediate wake of a miraculous or stunning occurrence that
leaves people awestruck, confused and fearful—this is the appropriate biblical response to a divine
intervention (“the fear of the Lord”). “You are looking for Jesus who was crucified”: the verb
translated as “looking for” (zêteô) has a rich range of meanings, many of which are relevant here,
when we consider these women as representatives of the later Christian community: to search for,
to desire, to strive after, pursue, be eager for, to look for answers about something. On a surface
level, yes, they are “looking for” Jesus (at least for His corpse), but on the deeper spiritual level of
the evangelist (writing for a later community), the message is that one is to desire and strive after
the Risen Christ, to seek and yearn for Him—a message that is no less urgent for us today.
“He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay”: unlike some
of the mythical apocryphal gospels which arose in subsequent centuries , the announcement of
the angel here is eloquently simple: “He is not here” (note the personal pronoun; not “His body is
not here” but “He Himself is not here,” i.e. He is elsewhere).
        “How matter-of-fact is the angel’s message! One might have wished for something a bit more
        grand, something that could be memorized and recited on special occasions by children.
        Something with rolling cadences, like the Declaration of Independence or the Gettysburg
        Address. Something that Bach or Handel could have set to music. Something more akin to
        ‘Fear not, for I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people…’. Well, you get the
        picture (it does have a neon angel in it!). But it lacks ‘alleluias’ and ‘forsooths’. Not even a single
        ‘Hail, Mary.’ Just the facts, ladies: Jesus is risen, as he promised. See for yourselves, the body is
        not here.” (“God with a Human Face,” by John C. Purdy; online)
“He has been raised”: there is a tension evident in the New Testament between two related
assertions: “He has been raised” (a “divine passive” verb, i.e. God has raised Him) and “He has
risen/He rose” (presumably of His own power). One places the emphasis on God’s action on behalf
of Jesus, as the source of the power of resurrection (most scholars assume this is the earlier
tendency, before a more developed Christology became widespread); the other stresses that Jesus
rose Himself, emphasizing His equality with God the life-giver. For us as Christians, these are not
opposed claims: Jesus is both God and Son of God at the same time and without contradiction,
although the exact relationship of these assertions will not be worked out for several centuries,
during the great Trinitarian and Christological councils of the fourth and fifth centuries. Some
scholars, however, interpret the “He was raised” language in an Arian way, as if Jesus were simply
a great human being who was resuscitated by God, as Lazarus had been. Needless to say, such an
interpretation is foreign to Christian faith, and is perhaps reading modern scepticism into a text
by first-century believers. “…as He said”: the Resurrection is the fulfillment of Jesus’ earlier
predictions—it effectively marks the “completion” of His salvific work (it will actually only be
fully completed with the Ascension and Pentecost). “Come and see”: the (ad)verb here (deute)

 See the excerpt from the apocryphal “Gospel of Peter” at the end of this commentary, for an interesting comparison
between the way the Resurrection is recounted in the canonical (vs. non-canonical) Gospels. Note that none of the
canonical Gospels specifically describe the moment of the Resurrection itself. It is simply taken for granted.
often carries the nuance of an call to conversion or mission, of an invitation to a special encounter, a
moment of reward, a dinner with end-of-times overtones:
       Matt 4:19 “Follow [deute] me, and I will make you fish for people”
       Matt 11:28 “"Come [deute] to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens”
       Matt 22:4 “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat
       calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come [deute] to the wedding banquet.” (compare
       with Rev 19:17 “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds
       that fly in midheaven, ‘Come [deute], gather for the great supper of God’ ” and Rev 19:9, which speaks
       of the invitation to the heavenly “wedding banquet”)
       Matt 25:34 “the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come [deute], you that are blessed by my
       Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you…’ ”
“Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of
you to Galilee; there you will see him’ ”: There is a definite sense of urgency in the message: not
simply to go, but to go quickly (Gk tachu, as in “tachometer,” the measure of how fast a car engine is
running, or “tachycardia,” when the heart beats too quickly): this is news that simply cannot wait!
“He is going ahead of you”: in a sense, preparing the way—this is not a half-dead victim of crucifixion
limping back into existence, but someone who is swifter than His own disciples, who is capable of
moving more quickly than they can! “Galilee”: “There the Saviour commenced his ministry; and
there, away from the noise and confusion of the city, he purposed again to meet them, in retirement
and quietness, to satisfy them of his resurrection, and to commission them to go forth and preach the
everlasting gospel” (Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament). “There you will see Him”: again, the
verb used here (horaô) has more to it than merely visual sight: it also includes “You will perceive, you
will understand, you will recognize, you will experience for yourselves—“see” in the broadest possible
The women respond exactly as commanded: they go quickly (Gk tachu)—in fact, the text says that
they run from the tomb. “With fear and great joy”: a mix of excitement and divinely-inspired awe at
what they have just experienced and learned. This should be the fundamental attitude of all of us in
our preaching of the Good News—a healthy sense of reverence for the awesomeness of the mystery we
proclaim, and yet absolute joy and passionate enthusiasm that we are allowed to be the bearers of it!
The Gospels make it clear that the disciples receive the message from these women, which is why
Mary Magdalene is traditionally honoured with the title “Apostle to the Apostles”. She, more than
anyone else, is the emissary of the Easter message, the primary witness to the fact of Jesus’ resurrection.
 “Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him,
took hold of his feet, and worshiped him”: The suddenness of Jesus’
appearance (the Greek says, “Behold!”) stresses the supernatural character
of the encounter. There is no long theological explanation—simply a
word of greeting (the Greek has chairete, “Hail, Greetings!” [literally,
“Rejoice!”], a common Greek greeting which likely translates the Semitic
greeting “Shalom—Peace!”). A word from their beloved Friend is all the
proof they require. Note the verbs: they came to Him, embraced His feet,
and worshipped Him—perhaps literally (to emphasize the corporeal nature
of the Risen One?), but perhaps also symbolic of the steps on the journey
of conversion and faith? To embrace Jesus’ feet is to show Him reverence
and love. To worship Him (“to fall with one’s face to the ground,
prostrate oneself, do homage”) is to recognize Him as truly divine, more
than merely a human wonder-worker or sage—this is the same verb used of the Magi when they come
to “do homage” to the newborn “King of the Jews” in Matt 2:2,11. It is also the same verb used by the
devil when he tempts Jesus to fall down and worship him in Matt 4:9-10. It is very used frequently in
Matthew, especially on the part of the those for whom Jesus works miracles or healings.
“Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me”. As if to calm their
confusion and fright, Jesus repeats almost verbatim the words of the angel (perhaps the women were
so stunned they didn’t really hear the message the first time!): “Do not be afraid”. Note, however, the
tenderness of Jesus’ words here; He doesn’t say “tell my disciples,” but “tell my brothers”—perhaps
expressing already His forgiveness and mercy toward those who had betrayed him only a few days
earlier. They are not condemned or rejected; on the contrary, Jesus speaks of them now as members of
His family. No doubt the disciples were berating themselves for their cowardice and betrayal of their
Master; Jesus makes it clear that the events and weakness of the past are not an obstacle to the mission
He entrusts to them. In some of His first post-resurrection words, Jesus speaks of reconciliation and
forgiveness. His words are a gentle commission (notice the absence of the “go quickly” in the angel’s
The verses immediately after this Gospel reading (which are not read today) tell the story of the
apparent “conspiracy of silence” between the chief priests and the guards at the tomb, bribing the
guards to claim that Jesus’ body had been stolen by the disciples while the guards slept. “And this
story is still told among the Jews to this day”: Matthew seems to suggest that, already within decades
of the Resurrection, there were already opposing claims being made by some in the Jewish
community, contesting the Christian preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead. It is clear that,
from a very early stage, the claim of Jesus’ Resurrection was a source of division and some conflict
between Christian and non-Christian Jews. This “epilogue” must be read in the context of Matthew’s
sometimes painfully brutal polemics against first-century Jews who do not believe in Jesus, and should
not be cited as an example of “Jewish unbelief” or claimed Jewish conspiracies to silence the Christian
message. There is much more involved here than simply an objective historical reminiscence.
       “Well, there we have it. One of the greatest discoveries in the history of humankind tersely
       described in eight verses of scripture. It is a wild mixture of the awesome and mundane, of
       beginner’s luck and heavenly intention, of surprise and expectation, of spectacular special
       effects and matter-of-fact reporting, of fear and of joy.” (“God with a Human Face,” by John C.
       Purdy; online)

                                           John 20:1-9
                           Although John’s Gospel has a reputation for highlighting the miraculous
                          and extraordinary aspects of the Gospel (“high Christology”), nevertheless
                          its account of Easter Sunday is remarkably sober and unadorned. Unlike
                          the Synoptics, there is no mention of any extraordinary phenomena or
                          angelic messengers—simply the strange and apparently unexplained fact
                          of the tomb being found open. John doesn’t mention Mary actually
                          entering the tomb itself, but her report to Peter and the Beloved Disciple
                          (“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where
                          they have put him”) suggests that she has at least looked inside, and
                          confirmed for herself that the tomb was indeed empty. John suggests
that, on its own, the empty tomb is ambiguous, and can be explained in various plausible ways—
it does not necessarily imply resurrection, and therefore is not an adequate “proof” on its own.
Although John mentions only Mary Magdalene’s presence, the fact that she uses the first-person
plural (“we”) would seem to indicate that she did not go alone to the tomb (a single woman,
walking the streets of the city alone in the early-morning darkness would have been highly
unlikely in that culture). Who is the “they” Mary refers to? The Jewish Temple authorities?
Guards? Strangers? Is she referring to a specific group that she believes is involved in a conspiracy
to steal the body? Or does she simply mean “some persons unknown to us”?
In this connection, one of the more interesting discoveries of ancient inscriptions was a text from
the first century, apparently issued by the Roman emperor and found near Nazareth, imposing
capital punishment for those who robbed tombs:
There are some scholars who have suggested that this text was actually issued in the wake of the
Jewish-Christian controversies over the alleged “resurrection” of Jesus, in which Jewish leaders
claimed His body had been stolen, and that news of these allegations reached the Emperor
(perhaps by means of the large Jewish community in Rome). Others have pointed out that at least
part of the obvious terror of Jesus’ friends may have stemmed from the concern that they will be
the obvious suspects accused of stealing Jesus’ body, an offense punishable by death, as specified
in the text above.
v.2: Note: “she ran” – suggests an atmosphere of excitement, fear, confusion, panic
vv.3-6: Peter and the other disciple (“the one whom Jesus loved”) run to the tomb – the “other
disciple” (=John the evangelist?) outruns Peter. A number of commentators (notably Raymond
Brown) have seen in this race to the tomb a symbolic competition between the Johannine
(=charismatic, Spirit-led) and Petrine (=authority, institutional) traditions in the Church.
Although the Johannine may run ahead (in passion, excitement, enthusiasm), nevertheless it
needs to be always respectful of the Petrine office (leadership and structure). John arrives first, and
yet he waits for Peter, and allows him to enter the tomb first—a beautiful image of the
importance of balancing the structural/institutional and the charismatic/prophetic elements in the
Church, even today; both are necessary in the life of the Church. Without the charismatic/passionate
side, the Church grows cold, lifeless, stale and dead; without the institutional/structural side, the
Church can spin off into all kinds of strange ideas and heresies, and loses any sense of coherence
and continuity.
“This verse has been a chief factor in depictions of John as a young man (especially combined
with traditions that he wrote last of all the gospel authors and lived into the reign of Domitian).
But the verse does not actually say anything about John’s age, nor is age always directly correlated
with running speed.” (NET Bible; online at: www.bible.org)
“John is he who is called the other disciple, and he outran Peter. As it is among the children of
God, all of them have not a like speed. Some of them get a sight of Christ before others ever get a
sight of Him. Christ has some in His Church that are old and experienced with His ways, and so
they run fast in the same; and He has others also, who are His children and belong to Him, who
are young ones, and cannot run so fast. But whoever they be who have the life of God in them,
and so are walking on towards Him, they shall, either first or last, meet with Him without doubt.”
(Samuel Rutherford, Puritan preacher, 1640)
“The message is clear: in the church in which Peter’s leadership is not disputed, true faith and
insight comes through the beloved disciple and through Mary. They must be heard. The writer is
doubtless affirming the great riches of his own tradition. It is a kind of assertive yet inclusive
ecumenism which insists on what matters and speaks to the Church today.” (William Loader;
online at: http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/MtEasterJohn20.htm)
vv.6-7: What is the significance of the way in which the gravecloths are described by John? Does it
suggest that (as in the Mel Gibson “Passion”) the body of Jesus simply “evaporated” at the
Resurrection, and that the wrappings just fell where they were? Or does it imply almost that Jesus
unwrapped Himself, and then carefully wrapped up the cloths and laid them back in their place
(almost like a person “making their bed” when they get up in the morning)?
“Much dispute and difficulty surrounds the translation of the words not lying with the strips of linen
cloth but rolled up in a place by itself. Basically the issue concerns the positioning of the graveclothes
as seen by Peter and the other disciple when they entered the tomb. Some have sought to prove
that when the disciples saw the graveclothes they were arranged just as they were when around
the body, so that when the resurrection took place the resurrected body of Jesus passed through
them without rearranging or disturbing them. In this case the reference to the face cloth being
rolled up does not refer to its being folded, but collapsed in the shape it had when wrapped
around the head. Sometimes in defense of this view the Greek preposition metav (meta, which
normally means “with”) is said to mean “like” so that the comparison with the other graveclothes
does not involve the location of the face cloth but rather its condition (rolled up rather than
flattened). In spite of the intriguing nature of such speculations, it seems more probable that the
phrase describing the face cloth should be understood to mean it was separated from the other
graveclothes in a different place inside the tomb. This seems consistent with the different
conclusions reached by Peter and the beloved disciple (vv. 8-10). All that the condition of the
graveclothes indicated was that the body of Jesus had not been stolen by thieves. Anyone who had
come to remove the body (whether the authorities or anyone else) would not have bothered to
unwrap it before carrying it off. And even if one could imagine that they had (perhaps in search of
valuables such as rings or jewelry still worn by the corpse) they would certainly not have bothered
to take time to roll up the face cloth and leave the other wrappings in an orderly fashion.” (NET
vv.8-9: “he saw and believed” – once again, the power of miraculous “signs” for John and yet, as
we see in v. 9, that faith, as authentic as it is, will not be completed, will not “come full circle” until
they understand the Resurrection as the fulfillment of Scripture and of Jesus’ predictions. “that he
must rise from the dead” – Gk dei [must]: a word associated in the Gospels with divine necessity:
that this is the way God requires things to be according to the plan of salvation. There is a causal
relationship between this and events which will take place afterward.
Note: In many mainline Christian denominations, this Gospel reading ends, not at v. 9, but at v.
18. You may find it worthwhile to read through this longer passage, to situate today’s portion in its
broader context.

                           T T T T T
                                         Lord of all life and power,
                              who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
                                  overcame the old order of sin and death
                                      to make all things new in him:
                                      grant that we, being dead to sin
                                      and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
                                       may reign with him in glory;
                                  to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
                                  be praise and honour, glory and might,
                                      now and in all eternity. Amen!
                                 (Anglican collect for the Easter Vigil)
               The Gospel of Peter
          (Apocryphal, mid- to late second century; translation by Raymond Brown)
   But in the night in which the Lord’s day dawned, when the soldiers were safeguarding it two by two in
every watch, there was a loud voice in heaven; and they saw that the heavens were opened and that two
males who had much radiance had come down from there and come near the sepulcher. But that stone
which had been thrust against the door, having rolled by itself, went a distance off the side; and the
                                                             . [38]
sepulcher opened, and both the young men entered And so those soldiers, having seen, awakened the
centurion and the elders (for they too were present, safeguarding). And while they were relating what
they had seen, again they see three males who have come out from they sepulcher, with the two
supporting the other one, and a cross following them, and the head of the two reaching unto heaven,
but that of the one being led out by a hand by them going beyond the heavens. And they were hearing a
voice from the heavens saying, ‘Have you made proclamation to the fallen-asleep?’ And an obeisance
was heard from the cross, ‘Yes.’ And so those people were seeking a common perspective to go off and
make these things clear to Pilate;           and while they were still considering it through, there appear again
the opened heavens and a certain man having come down and entered into the burial place.                     Having
seen these things, those around the centurion hastened at night before Pilate (having left the sepulcher
which they were safeguarding) and described all the things that they indeed had seen, agonizing greatly
and saying: ‘Truly he was God’s Son.’ In answer Pilate said: ‘I am clean of the blood of this Son of God,
but it was to you that this seemed [the thing to do].’ Then all, having come forward, were begging and
                                                                                                         . [48]
exhorting him to command the centurion and the soldiers to say to no one what they had seen                     ‘For,’
they said, ‘it is better for us to owe the debt of the greatest sin in the sight of God than to fall into the
hands of the Jewish people and be stoned.’ And so Pilate ordered the centurion and the soldiers to say
   Now at the dawn of the Lord’s Day Mary Magdalene, a female disciple of the Lord (who, afraid because
of the Jews since they were inflamed with anger, had not done at the tomb of the Lord what women were
accustomed to do for the dead beloved by them), having taken with her women friends, came to the
tomb where he had been placed. And they were afraid lest the Jews should see them and were saying, ‘If
indeed on that day on which he was crucified we could not weep and beat ourselves, yet now at his tomb
we may do these things.        But who will roll away for us even the stone placed against the door of the
tomb in order that, having entered, we may sit beside him and do the expected things? For the stone was
large, and we were afraid lest anyone see us. And if we are unable, let is throw against the door what we
bring in memory of him; let us weep and beat ourselves until we come to our homes.’ And having gone
off, they found the sepulcher opened. And having come forward, they bent down there and saw there a
certain young man seated in the middle of the sepulcher, comely and clothed with a splendid robe, who
said to them: ‘Why have you come? Whom do you seek? Not that one who was crucified? He is risen and
gone away. But if you do not believe, bend down and see the place where he lay, because he is not here.
For he is risen and gone away to there whence he was sent.’ Then the women fled frightened.
   Now it was the final day of the Unleavened Bread; and many went out returning to their home since the
feast was over. But we twelve disciples of the Lord were weeping and sorrowful; and each one, sorrowful
because of what had come to pass, departed to his home. But I, Simon Peter, and my brother Andrew,
having taken our nets, went off to the sea. And there was with us Levi of Alphaeus whom the Lord ...
What, exactly, is the message? That God raised Jesus from the dead, and in so doing He vanquished sin, death
and the devil. The collateral implications of this basic message are radical and comprehensive. Anticipation
displaces dread. Regret gives way to equanimity. Cynicism vanishes before joy. Self-control conquers addiction.
Purpose usurps futility. Reconciliation overtakes estrangement. Inner peace calms disquiet and distraction.
Creativity banishes boredom. Death will give way to life, darkness to light, fear to confidence, anxiety to calm,
and despair to hope. These collateral implications are something like the fulfillment of your deepest desires,
your wildest dreams, your fondest hopes, and your secret wishes, only in this scenario your hopes, dreams,
desires and wishes originate from the heart of God rather than from the human heart curved in on itself.
The Easter message shatters and subverts conventional human wisdom. We will, in fact, cheat death ... Today
we experience the Easter message partially and not fully, only possibly and not necessarily. But there comes a
time in a chess game when the outcome is a foregone conclusion, even though you must finish the match.
(Dan Clendenin; online at: http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20050321JJ.shtml)

                                Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
No one is ever ready to encounter Easter until he or she has spent time in the dark place where hope cannot be
seen. Easter is the last thing we are expecting. And that is why it terrifies us. This day is not about bunnies,
springtime and girls in cute new dresses. It’s about more hope than we can handle. (Rev. Craig Barnes,
Christian Century online)

                                Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The resurrection is the one and only event in Jesus’ life that was entirely between him and God. There were no
witnesses whatsoever. No one on earth can say what happened inside that tomb, because no one was there.
They all arrived after the fact. Two of them saw clothes. One of them saw angels. Most of them saw nothing at
all because they were still in bed that morning, but as it turned out that did not matter because the empty tomb
was not the point. The living being that had once been inside of it was gone … He had outgrown his tomb,
which was too small a focus for the resurrection. The risen one had people to see and things to do. The living
one’s business was among the living, to whom he appeared not once but four more times in the Gospel of
John. Every time he came to his friends they became stronger, wiser, kinder, more daring. Every time he came
to them, they became more like him.
Those appearances cinch the resurrection for me, not what happened in the tomb. What happened in the tomb
was entirely between Jesus and God. For the rest of us, Easter began the moment the gardener said, “Mary!”
and she knew who he was. That is where the miracle happened and goes on happening—not in the tomb but
in the encounter with the living Lord.
In the end, that is the only evidence we have to offer those who ask us how we can possibly believe. Because we
live, that is why. Because we have found, to our surprise, that we are not alone. Because we never know where
he will turn up next. Here is one thing that helps: never get so focused on the empty tomb that you forget to
speak       to    the    gardener.      (Barbara    Brown       Taylor,     online    at:    http://www.religion-

                                Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

                           ×ñéóôïò áíåóôç! Áëçèùò áíåóôç!
                                   (Christos anestê! Alêthôs anestê!)
                                         Christ has risen! Truly He has risen!
                                             (Orthodox Easter greeting)

To top