On a chilly Sunday morning nearly two thousand years ago, a group of women set out before sunrise to a tomb. They carried with them spices commonly used for embalming. Their leader, their friend, was murdered three days prior. Because of the religious holiday, He was buried quickly without the usual preparation of the body.
I say murder, but history sees it more as an execution. A crowd of thousands was chanting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” So much so, the mob needed silencing before the trial could go on.
In those days, a hole dug into the hillside with bodies placed inside were common. The bottom of the opening of the tomb would be concaved, rounded downward like the inside of a bowl. Rolling a stone large enough to cover the entrance, into the “bowl” would then seal the tomb.
The women wondered how they could roll the stone away from the door. Several may have thought the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb would help, but the odds of that were small. After all, those men were professional soldiers assigned to guard the grave; it is highly unlikely they would allow the removal of the seal.
Upon their arrival, the women discovered a scene none of them expected. Instead of soldiers, angels greeted them. One of the angels said to the women, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay.”
The tomb was empty.
Most of the women ran to tell the Apostles what had happened. Mary Magdalen, however, hung around for a while; Jesus showed up and spoke with her. If Mary had any doubts, they were now gone. He has risen! Jesus is alive!
Excitement, bewilderment, and glorious surprises filled the remainder of the day.
Once the women arrive, the Apostles did not believe their story. Peter and John ran to the tomb and found it empty. The angels had already departed, and the Apostles do not know what to think.
Later that day, Jesus walks with two men down the road, explaining what is happening. He uses the Scripture to do so, from Moses to the prophets, the truths of salvation unfold.
That evening He shows up in the upper room with the women and ten of the eleven remaining Apostles. He eats with them and shows His scars. He proves to them He is not a spirit or ghost but has flesh and bone. They had watched as He raised people from the dead, now He had done not just the impossible, but the unthinkable, He had risen Himself from the dead. The man that had power over the wind and the waves also had authority over life and death. He is the Son of God. He is God.
The followers of Christ have been meeting on the first day of the week, Sunday, ever since. Once a year, there is a special day. Christians call it Easter; Easter is Resurrection Sunday.
The reason Easter is so precious to Christians is not that it is symbolic, but because it is real. Christ did not use a symbolic gesture like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, to give us hope of a resurrection. He rose from the dead to prove to us we will be resurrected one day.
Without the events of that first Easter, Christianity crumbles to dust. If Jesus is still dead, He is no different than any other man. He lived, He died. However, with the resurrection, Jesus has proved His divinity and given us more than the hope of eternal life. He gave us salvation.
I became a follower of Christ in 1975. The next spring, I celebrated my first Easter with the knowledge of my future resurrection and eternal heavenly home.
I cannot remember not attending a sunrise service Easter morning. Yet, this Easter is different from all others in our lifetimes. With the closing of Churches, ministers are broadcasting via the internet as they preach from home or in empty churches.
I should say it is different for us in America. Throughout church history and in some nations today, there are places where it is forbidden to worship Jesus Christ and assemble as believers. An Easter service with a group of other believers, singing at the top of their lungs, and hearing the truth of the resurrection from a pulpit is only a dream to some believers – virus or no virus.
At sunrise Easter morning, walk outside, look toward the sun, and praise the Father for the His Son. The Saviour of the world. Your Saviour. Your Risen Lord.
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in northern Parke County, Indiana. Webpage: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com; email: email@example.com; address: 410 S. Jefferson St. Rockville IN 47872; all Bible references KJV.