He is Risen!
On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:5-6)
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is significant in importance to all humanity because, in addition to being a fulfillment the Old Testament prophecies and the ultimate confirmation of Christ’s works, it points humanity toward our ultimate destiny of resurrection and final judgement at the end of time.
Mediating on this beautiful mystery points us toward our union with The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I hope you will enjoy a short story to aid in this mediation which continues from where we left the Patriarch and Merchant in the previous post: The Way of the Cross.
Unable to sleep since the brutal torture and Crucifixion of Jesus, the patriarch sits up on the woven mat in the home of his merchant friend, Elias. From his mat, he can inhale the sweet sent of fig bread being baked in the home’s tannur by Elias’ wife of 30 years, Aliza. As she bakes, her melodic song ascends with the light, aromatic smoke up and into the atmosphere.
I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
From whence shall come my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
or your guardian to sleep.
Behold, the guardian of Israel
never slumbers nor sleeps.
The LORD is your guardian;
the LORD is your shade
at your right hand.
By day the sun will not strike you,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will guard you from all evil;
he will guard your soul.
The LORD will guard your coming and going
both now and forever. (Ps 121)
The previous day, Elias had indicated to Lucius, the patriarch, that his wife had sung this song each morning for the entirety of their life together and has since taught it to the wives of each of their seven sons.
Through the cracks of the wooden doors Lucius can see that darkness remains in control of the world and the sun has not broken through its place on the horizon. Rising and wrapping himself in a crimson cloak he had acquired in the market the previous day, he climbed the hand made ladder that is leaning against the wall to arrive alone on the flat roof of this humble home.
To the east the rose colored dawn had just begun to advance ahead of the yet to be seen glowing yellow sun. The soft color of awakening faded into a deep purple and then blended into the deepest, darkest blue Lucius has ever seen. The multitude of stars shining brightly in the sky caused him to pause and praise God for his existence.
With his gaze focused on the coming of a new day, a shooting star rocketed across the sky and appeared to burst instantaneously as it came to rest near the rising sun. The flash of light lit the crisp spring sky and disappeared unnoticed by the sleeping inhabitants of Jerusalem. Below him, he observes two women stirring a light fog on the road as they rush toward the rising sun and the burial ground of their loved ones. He thinks to himself, ‘They are up and moving early.’
The two Mary’s are on a mission to care for the body of their Lord and Savior. Their faces are swollen from the tears shed over the last two days. In their hearts they cannot believe He is dead. The pace of their small feet quicken as they proceed closer to the tomb. As the sun rises, they hardly notice the shooting star overhead or the sweet scent of baking bread rising from the home of their friend, Aliza.
As they arrived at the tomb, they turned to each other and said, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’” (Mark 16:1-7)
Mary of Magdala, being the younger of the two woman, immediately departed to find Peter. Her brown veil falling from her head, she ran through the streets of Jerusalem to find the home of the most senior apostle.
Bursting through the door and disturbing the entire household, she proclaimed to Peter:
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned home. (John 20:2-10)
With the sun now glowing over Jerusalem, smoke can be seen rising from most of the homes as its inhabitants begin their day’s work on this first day of the week. In the background a young colt let’s loose a morning call to his mother as Mary of Magdala remains weeping at the entrance of Christ’s tomb. Bewildered at all she has heard and seen, she is frozen in time.
As she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:11-17)
After this, Elias and Lucius were walking to the market to obtain for Aliza grapes for this evening’s meal. Along the way they discussed the events of the week without noticing a man of equal stature who had taken up stride alongside them.
Looking at them He asked, “What are these strange events you are bantering about.”
Lucius, turned to the man and stated, “Who are you that you do not know all that has happened to Jesus of Nazareth?”
With that Jesus, made His presence known to both men, who, overjoyed embraced Jesus just as he disappeared from their arms.
Led by Elias, both men ran through the busy city streets, without regard for their hurried appearance, to the upper room where the apostles were hidden and announced the resurrection of Christ.
They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either. (Mark 16:13)
That evening the apostles reclined in fear. Their dinner of bread, pears and grapes remained untouched. The warmth of the sun had just begun to diminish in its heat providing brilliance.
As the eleven were at table, He appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents [with their hands], and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:14-18)
The day had turned into night and a cool mist had descended upon all of Israel. It appears to Elias and Lucias, as they discussed the events of the day, the stars were more numerous tonight than either can remember.
Lucias, almost in a whisper, “Elias, I feel as if we are brothers for life now. We have been brought together by Him. Are you ready for what comes next? We will walk a new path now.”
Elias, with a deep, rumbling laugh of joy, “My brother, with Him as our guide, I am ready.”
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
JMJ, pray for us!
God is good,