The empty tomb

Posted by Christine Nusse on Apr 7, 2007 | Categories: Seasons of the Spirit

Not all the disciples had seen Jesus die, his dead body taken down from the cross and put in the tomb nearby. Only the women and the disciple “whom Jesus loved” were mentioned, maybe more were there. They took him, so carefully wrapped him in the burial clothes, one for the head and the long one for the whole body, and laid him in the rock. They saw the stone being rolled to block the entrance. It was so definitive!
After the Passover day, they came back. What were they looking for, a little more time to mourn? But the stone was rolled away from the entrance, the tomb was empty and the burial clothes neatly folded.
This Easter Sunday’s readings don’t give us anything else. Mary Magdalene and the “other disciple whom Jesus loved” were among the first ones at the empty tomb that morning. What did it tell them who were so closed to Jesus?
What does it tell me, two thousand years later?
They had lived closely with Jesus, they knew him alive, but they also saw him dead.
We, on the other hand, have been told of his resurrection.
But the empty tomb invites them as well as us today, to make an ‘incredible’ leap of faith. We, like the disciples, remain in that moment in time when we don’t dare to believe he is really risen. And yet, what if it was true? They didn’t dare to hope and yet they did. Don’t we also?
Later, the disciples will meet the risen Christ, not in a dramatic fashion, but quite the opposite, in very intimate settings: in the garden, Mary Magdalene will recognize Jesus at the way he pronounced her name; the apostles will be huddling together behind closed doors and suddenly he is with them; others will recognize him in the way he breaks the bread. Very low key indeed!
May we dare expect the same? Am I as eager to find him as Mary Magdalene was? Will I know to read the signs of the empty tomb and the folded burial clothes? Will I listen for my name?

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