The women went out and fled from the tomb, for they were trembling and confused. They did not say anything to anyone, for they were afraid.
Triumphant Epic or Human Tragedy?
From our perspective, the resurrection can feel like one of those grand epics presented in cinematic form. The first inkling that all might soon be well dawns on women who love the hero more than life itself. Their suspicions are soon confirmed, and everyone shares in their joy.
But for those who were actually there, the experience was far different. The morning was colder, the sky was darker. There hearts were more broken. It was all too real.
It is no surprise that the first people who came to Jesus’ tomb on that fateful Sunday morning experienced the resurrection far differently than we do. After all, they also experienced his death in a far different way.
Walking in the Sandals of Remarkable Women
The women Mark tells us of were some of Jesus’ closest confidants. They had followed him to Jerusalem from Galilee, where they had supported his ministry with their own money. More importantly, they had supported him with their love. They had invested far more in him than money; they had gathered up every drop of faith—every shred of hope—and put it all on him.
And what had they received in return for all their trouble? In a word, heartache. They watched as their pagan overlords, incited and aided by the religious and political leadership of God’s people, had put him to death. They knew that he had done no wrong, but that did not matter. They were not allowed to speak on his behalf, and, even if they had been allowed to speak, it would have made no difference.
Were they wrong about him? Was he really just a charlatan, as the so-called experts claimed? And, if not, then what did that say about God? How could the Sovereign Lord of the universe stand by and allow a man who supposedly represented Him and who had apparently committed no crime to be the victim of such cruelty? How could God allow the man they loved so much to experience such shame?
In spite of whatever doubts they may have had, these women came to the tomb to see that his body would be properly preserved. It was an opportunity to honor him one last time, and it was a chance to say good-bye. Little did they know that their world was about to change.
The Resurrection Changes Everything
The human story is a tragedy. We live lives that are characterized by desperation, dysfunction, and decay. Jesus became a full participant in that story when he died on the cross. We—the human species—killed him precisely because we did not understand him. We shamed him because we did not want anyone like him to trouble us ever again.
In the resurrection, however, Jesus radically altered the storyline. Death is still part of the human experience; all people will die—one way or another. But death no longer has to define the human experience. Rather, humans can participate in a story whose very essence is life.
This can be a bewildering possibility for us, just as it was for the women at the tomb. It means that everything can be different, and “different” can be scary. Still, “different” is exactly what we need. Let’s grab hold of “different,” and let’s share it with the world.
Invitation to Reflect and Share
As we close out Lent together, take some time to reflect on the difference that the resurrection of Jesus makes for humanity as a whole and for you as an individual. Share your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.