I don’t know if this is historically or theologically accurate but this is how I have envisioned the first Easter Sunday.
No matter what the weather really was like, it was a dark, cold, and gloomy day for the disciples, followers, and family of Jesus. Having betrayed Jesus to the authorities and then being rejected by the same authorities, Judas Iscariot committed suicide and was now buried in a field as an outcast of both friend and foe alike.
It was just a matter of time before the authorities would start looking for the other eleven disciples. Having arrested and executed Jesus, it would be quite easy to do this.
Peter was in hiding from both his friends and those who had arrested Jesus. Fearful for his own life because of what they had done to Jesus, he did not think that he could find comfort and solace with those with whom he had spent the last three years. Having proudly proclaimed that Jesus was the Savior and having said that he would never deny Christ, he had done exactly that on the night of Christ’s arrest and ultimate execution. And he had not denied him once but three times. How could he ever face his friends or his family again?
The other disciples were also fearful for the life. Their leader, their teacher was gone and they would be the next to be arrested and executed as the authorities purged their little group.
It is hard to say how the women of the group reacted. The authorities, locked in their old ways, could never imagine that women would have or could have been treated as equals in the eyes of the Lord. But the women, no matter whether it was in the eyes of society or in the eyes of the God, still had their responsibilities of taking care of the body of Jesus.
The execution of Jesus had taken place at really the wrong time, so the body was taken from the cross and put into the tomb before it had been prepared. Now the women, in their grief and anguish had to finish the task that was theirs and theirs alone.
So on that first Easter morning, among the twelve and the other disciples, it was a dark, gloomy, morning. No matter where they were, they saw no future in the coming weeks. All the successes, all the joys, and all the wonders that they had seen and been a part of for the past three years were gone in an instant. They were lost in time because the religious authorities of Israel could not accept the idea that God would send His son and seek to bring hope to the world and challenge them to do the word of God. In a blatant abuse of power, the religious authorities put to death a man who challenged the status quo and brought hope to mankind.
And then the disciples heard that the women could not find the body. Apparently the body of Jesus had been stolen from the tomb, perhaps by the very same authorities who had put him to death. They had stolen the body to prevent the disciples and the people that would be known as “The Way” from claiming some sort of miraculous intercession by God. The authorities had stolen the body to drive another nail into the heart of the movement.
But then the word came. The women had seen Jesus and HE was not dead! And suddenly, all the words and the teaching that they had heard over the past three years began to make sense. All the words that Jesus had spoken about dying and being raised from the dead after three days were not just the words of a prophet but the words of the true Christ, the true Messiah.
And now a day that was gloomy, dark, and cold became radiant, warm, and the light was brighter than ever before. Christ had been resurrected and had conquered death. There was hope; there was a promise. The movement would not end but would grow because people would tell others about what they had seen and what they had did and how people had been healed of all sorts of illnesses. The words of Christ were true.
Today, in 2007, we are faced with many of the same thoughts that the early disciples faced. We hear that the tomb of Jesus had been discovered. We hear that Judas was not the betrayer of Jesus but rather a co-conspirator with Jesus to fake his death. Each Easter, someone else comes up with a new theory that will ultimately discredit the meaning of Easter.
But each theory is more complicated than the ones before. The rule in forming theories is to simplify, not complicate. And complicated theories don’t match the simple statement that Christ died, Christ was buried, and Christ has risen from the dead.
We are like the early disciples. The early disciples had seen the death of Christ on the cross that first Good Friday; they had seen His body taken away; and they had seen the evidence of the Resurrection, both in terms of the empty tomb and in terms of Christ Himself. They told others and they showed by their own beliefs, their own thoughts, and their own actions that Christ was alive and present in each one of them. Each year, others came to know what the early disciples knew because the early disciples had told the stories and what they saw. We tell the stories, not because we have seen what happened but rather because we have come to know in our hearts that it is true.
We have come to know in our hearts that there is a God and He cares for us as a loving Father. We know in our hearts that the Resurrection story is true and that Christ lives. We know this is true because we have felt the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and we have seen it work in others.
We are the ones who must pass the legacy of the Resurrection story to the next generation. We do not do it by brow-beating others but by simply telling what the story is. We do not do it by forcing belief but by showing that Christ is alive in everything we say and do. We are the representatives of the disciples; we are the ones who have inherited the story. We are the ones who must pass on the story.
Tomorrow brings another day, another week. Tomorrow bring another chance to tell the story. Tomorrow brings another chance to show that Christ is alive and that there is hope in this world. Tomorrow brings one more opportunity; shall we use it?