“Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace”*
As the day drew to a close, Jesus’ friends and family watched as they lowered the lifeless body from the rugged crossbeam. When the guards where finished with him, the family came laid him on a linen cloth and wrapped it around him.
“I have a place close by we can take him”, said Joseph who was from Aramathia.
“It’s in the garden at the bottom of this hill. Follow me”
There in the garden the aroma of fresh flowers filled the air, and life was in abundance while they laid the body of the giver of life in the tomb, and sealed it with a heavy stone. Some of the disciples gathered at Peter’s house and barred the doors tightly, for they feared the Jewish leaders would have them arrested. The days seemed endless as the pain of their great loss overwhelmed them. After looking around the room Andrew approached the table where James and John where seated.
“What are we going to do now that Jesus is gone? ”
“Where will we go?”
His questions fell into the silence. He continued,
“We can’t just sit around here waiting to die!”
Still no response, but how could they?
“With Jesus gone, death doesn’t sound so bad,” Peter thought to himself as he looked out the window.
As the darkness covered the land, the flickering light of the torches lit up the early morning sky. The Roman soldiers who were stationed at the tomb of Jesus paced back and forth trying to stay awake while the others took their turn sleeping.
“Well men, this is the last day we have to stand watch over this dead man,” said the chief officer.
“Good riddance!” another guard replied as he warmed himself by the fire. While the two men were still speaking, the ground began to shake violently.
“Hey what’s going on?”
The soldiers who were sleeping woke up while those who were standing fell to the ground. Suddenly an angel appeared at the tomb’s entrance with the appearance of lighting flashing across the sky. With little effort angel rolled the heavy stone away from the doorway of the tomb and sat on it. Overcome with fear at the awesome sight the guards passed out, laying on the ground as dead men. When they recovered and found the tomb empty, they left the garden and went to report what happened to the chief Priest.
“I can’t believe he’s gone!” Mary sobbed. She and some the other women who followed Jesus went to the tomb to minister to him one last time.
” These past few years went so fast!” said Joanna.
As they arrived at the tomb, They noticed the stone that was in front of the grave had been rolled away. Dropping the ointment Mary was carrying, she and the other women ran up to the entrance of the tomb and looked inside.
“He’s gone! What have they done with him?”Mary exclaimed as she turned and ran out of the garden to Peter’s house to tell them the news.
“Peter, John,” Mary cried as she beat on the door.
” They have taken him away!”
“Woman what is the matter with you? Do you want to wake up the entire city?” Peter whispered sternly as he opened the door.
“They have taken the body of the Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him!”
“What?!” exclaimed Peter.
John got up and ran out the door with Peter close behind. The two men raced through the garden to see the tomb for themselves. John was the first to arrive at the entrance and looked inside. While Peter came up behind him and went on in. The linen cloth that they used to wrap Jesus’ body laid empty on the stone slab before him. John came into the tomb behind Peter and noticed the cloth they used to wrap Jesus’ head was folded up and laid separately from the other linens.
“Surely he has risen from the dead just as he said he would. But where is he?” John thought to himself.
The two men departed from the garden with more questions than answers. They returned to their own homes thinking about what they saw at the tomb.
The sky that was once filled with darkness burst forth in an array of color by the rising sun. In the garden life began to stir once again as the song of the birds filled the air, and the flowers released sweet aroma with the warmth of the early morning light. There in the center of the garden, Mary had returned to the tomb. Her heart overwhelmed at the thought of someone taking her Lord, she wept bitterly as she stood in the garden alone.
“Where did they take him? I must know where!” she wept.
As Mary wiped the tears from her eyes, she looked once again into the place where they had laid Jesus three days earlier. Inside the tomb, two angels were sitting on the slab where the body laid. Mary stood in shock when she saw them, for she thought she was alone.
“Woman why are you weeping?” one of the angels questioned her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have taken him,” She replied as she began to cry again. Unable to stay any longer Mary decided to go home. As she turned to leave a man stood behind her.
“Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for in that empty tomb?”
“He must be the gardener, maybe he took the body from the tomb,” she thought to herself as she drew closer to him.
“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will go and get him,” Mary pleaded with him as she looked back at the grave.
With a gentle voice Jesus said,
At the sound of his voice, sorrow and grief fled and joy flooded her heart. She
turned and looked into the eyes of her risen Lord.
“Rabboni!” she shouted as she ran toward him.
“Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to my Father.”
Mary stopped where she was as Jesus continued,
“But go to my brethren and tell them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” He said as he vanished from her sight.
“He has risen!” Mary shouted.
With inexpressible joy, she ran from the garden to tell the others the good news.
“He’s alive!, Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead! My LORD lives!!” she rejoiced.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14:1-3 (NKJV)