You know it had to be one of the worst mornings ever, that first Easter morning. Not only were Mary and the disciples mourning the death of Someone whom they loved, they were afraid. So they were hiding from the Romans, fearing they would be next.
They were grieving. They were afraid. They felt abandoned. They felt hopeless. Grief. Loss. Fear. Sadness. Sorrow. Confusion. Abandonment.
Mary got up to leave. She must leave. She had something to do. It was a dark place Mary went, the cemetery where they left the lifeless body of Jesus.
Imagine the long, tearful walk she walked alone. Tears. Could there be so many tears? She had never cried like this. She had never gone through this. No one had ever gone through this. She must have been frightened. She must have been sad.
She must also have been in love. She loved Jesus so much she left the safety of the others hidden in that grief-filled room. She went alone. No one else had the love or the guts to do what she had to do, visit that borrowed tomb.
I cannot imagine her confusion when she arrived and she met what she thought was a gardener. Her frame of reference, her point of view were shaped by the horrible hours she had just experienced. The betrayal, the arrest, the trial, the torture, the spikes, the blood, the darkness, the earthquake, the torn temple veil — all shaped her mind and left her little prepared for the next event that topped anything she had experienced in the last three days.
She looked for a dead man and thought she found a gardener.
“Please Sir, what have you done with the body?”
The body? A dead lifeless form that had held the Man whom she loved?
“Mary, it is I.”
He’s alive! He is risen!
Where there was darkness, now there was light!
Can there be, has there ever been such a shocking turnaround? Not merely from darkness to light, but rather from death to life?
Light was shining in the darkness of that morning, but also in the dark gloom of her thoughts, her mind and her heart.
You know the story. She ran back to tell others. John — the disciple who writes more of love in his Gospel than the other three, the one who wrote those famous words, “For God so loved the world, He gave…” loving John ran to the tomb. From fear and grief now to unbelievable excitement. John ran. Peter ran.
Peter outran John. He was first. He stooped down, and there were the grave clothes, neatly folded. (Isn’t that just like Jesus to leave things better than he found them?) Angels met Peter and the disciples.
He is not here. He is risen! It is Easter this morning as I write this. I look up. I look past the cross. I look past the darkness.
He is not here. He is risen
Footnote: And so, here in little Wilton, I don’t have to look far to see the story. All within sight of my home (if it weren’t for the trees) are these pictorial reminders that Jesus is a Risen Savior.