Happy Easter to you! He is risen indeed, Alleluia.
During Jesus’ lifetime, people believed that when the Messiah came there would be peace in all nations. The Messiah would usher in a Messianic Age filled with prosperity and healing. Wars would end, boundaries would dissolve, and all would be well. They expected a power that more closely resembled kingly power on earth– big, gloating, sparkling.
If Jesus was the Messiah, then with his presence there should have been peace. The world should have changed, but it didn’t.
The women who went to see Jesus’ tomb knew this about the world. They knew that Jesus pushed enough political buttons to get killed. They knew the reality of crucifixion, and they knew that once you died you stayed dead. Jesus died, and the world didn’t change.
Despite all of this, the women went to the tomb. They knew better, they knew the dead stay dead, but they went anyway. And something had happened. It wasn’t what anyone expected, but it was real. The tomb was empty. No body. Death did not get the last word. In Ben Cieslik’s Easter sermon, he reminded me that Matthew said the women left with fear and great joy. As he said, Easter is a mixed bag.
Like these women who loved Jesus, we are called in this season of Easter to live with that same fear and great joy.
We celebrate Easter year in and year out, praying for the Messianic Age, praying for peace, for the world to change. Like people in Jesus’ time, we want Easter to mean that the world will be a little bit less of a scary place. But it hasn’t changed. The world is still broken and hurting. There will continue to be people senselessly murdered, more planes will crash, violence will continue to escalate in age old conflicts. Tomorrow’s world will look eerily similar to today’s world. But there is fear and great joy. The tomb is empty. Death does not win. This place will not be our resting place. This Easter, in fear and great joy, we hold onto the promise of the empty tomb. We trust that in the end, peace and love will be all we know.