Good Friday is a day of grief and remorse, a time for our heart to be filled with sorrow. Holy Saturday is a day well suited for quiet contemplation and reflection, but the sorrow lingers still. Today is Easter Sunday, a way where sorrow is replaced with joy and gladness. As Mary Magdalene learned, it is not a day for weeping:
Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag′dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5 and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7 and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo′ni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” 18 Mary Mag′dalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
As Saint Paul explains, the resurrection of Jesus is a foreshadowing of the resurrection of the dead at the end of the age:
Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, 2 by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 “For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection under him,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one.
(1 Cor 15:1-28)
In my Good Friday post, Agnus Dei, I covered how Jesus came to live among us in order to take away the sins of the world. The nature of sin and sacrifice is not something that I have always understood well. In fact, one really has to have a decent grasp of the Old Testament (which is the most generous description of my understanding of the Old Testament I dare to give) in order to truly understand that. For me, that has been a recent process. Before that time, I focused on another aspect of Jesus’ life among us, namely nature as both Man and God.
To me, at first, the message of Jesus (the one that I understood best, anyways) was that God would never ask of us what He wouldn’t be willing to undergo Himself. Like everyone Human being following Adam and Eve, God endured all that we must endure. He was born of a woman. He was born to a noble lineage, but his family itself was not well off. He grew up, and was obedient to His parents. Later, He walked among us, teaching us the Truth and working great miracles. As a result of this he was slandered, with many vile, and false, accusations made against him. Eventually, he was arrested, tried unjustly, tortured, and finally forced to endure a slow and agonizing death. There is little in the way of the misery of life that Jesus did not undergo while he lived among us. To me, this was a striking thing- the Creator of the entire universe was willing to subject Himself to the pitfalls of mortal existence, all for the benefit of the very people who rejected Him.
This was a very humbling lesson when I first came to understand. It still is, in fact. Yet it is also a comforting one. For I know that nothing I do, nothing I experience, nothing I suffer, will be any worse than what my God endured on my behalf nearly two millennia ago. It is a hard path that I walk, but I do not walk it alone, for He is with me on it, and the gladness that fact brings me cannot be taken away by this world or its ruler.
I leave everyone with these words of King David, which are eminently suited for today:
11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing;
thou hast loosed my sackcloth
and girded me with gladness,
12 that my soul may praise thee and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.
[Today’s post takes the place of my usual Selected Sunday Scriptures post.]