Never the same.
We can all imagine why the two Marys headed to the tomb that Sunday morning. They were there to grieve, to visit the grave of their friend. Perhaps they brought flowers. They certainly brought water, spices and wrappings to clean, anoint and wrap the body.
We can all imagine how they were feeling, the weight of their grief. Their friend and teacher, the one they call Messiah, was killed. Killed as a traitor by a mob that demanded his execution. Killed with a crown of thorns on a cross he carried himself.
And what about their fear? Fears of the same mob that killed Jesus. Fears of what would happen when they faced the guards sent to "protect" the body. Fears of what might happen when they were discovered.
They are walking towards the tomb and SUDDENLY THERE IS AN EARTHQUAKE! An angel of the Lord appears like lightning, a flash of white, before them. Personally, I would have jumped at least ten feet, turned on my heels and run like the wind. Even the guards - strong, Roman guards - are struck with terror, paralyzed by fear. But not these women, they stay. Despite their fear, they remember. They remember the angels that appeared to Joseph as witnesses and guides. They remember that angels are God's messengers. Sure, their hearts beat faster and their hands shake but they are ready:
"Do not be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not hear; for he has been raised...go quickly and tell his disciples..."
Suddenly their tasks of preparation and grief are forgotten, no longer necessary. They drop the buckets of water and spices and they run.
Imagine the tumult of emotion. An angel of the Lord has just spoken to them. More than that, Jesus' body is gone, not stolen. This means all that Jesus taught them is true. He said he would enter Jerusalem and be crucified. He said he would rise from the grace. They saw him die and now he is risen! What joy!
And what fear!
If the authorities and mobs were angry before, imagine how they'll be now. They will accuse the women of stealing the body. They will accuse the disciples. The women run to the disciples to tell of his resurrection and to get everyone moving. It is time for the next step. They must flee Jerusalem and get to Galilee.
As if all this isn't enough, as they are running with all their might, Jesus appears. They trip over their sore feet and fall straight to their knees. They gasp for breath and try to believe the impossible, the unimaginable. With fear and joy, they weep. He is here! He has come for them! Then, he is gone.
They run again with fear, joy and anticipation. The tears never stop flowing. They yell back and forth:
Did that really just happen?...Did you see his beautiful rob?...What about the sound of his voice, did he sound the same?...He said go to Galilee, right?...Will anyone ever believe us?...What if no one believes us?...
These women journey to the tomb ready to face death. They are ready to face the possibility that Jesus was not the Messiah, their worst nightmare. And now, instead, they bear the promise: JESUS IS ALIVE! They run to share the truth of Jesus' message: He IS the son of God, the kingdom of God HAS come near and NOTHING, note even death, can contain the power of God.
These women are the first to bear Jesus' message of discipleship. And they will never be the same. Their friends will never be the same. Their world will never be the same. Everything is transformed by the power of the resurrection.
Every year we celebrate these events in our conventional ways. We put on our fancy clothes, hunt for eggs and eat lots of chocolate! We get up early, go to church and eat a feast for lunch. In the midst of the celebration, we might imagine that none of this - these stories of empty tombs, angels bearing messages, Jesus calling his friends to Galilee - has much bearing on our lives.
But it does.
The ultimate significance of the resurrection is its impact on humanity. It is God's marvelous word spoken into the midst of disaster, the depths of pain and the numbness of human brokenness. It is death transformed into love, despair overcome by hope, fear dispelled by joy. Thus, the power of the resurrection transforms us: what we believe and how we live.
We have made the journey, traveled with the two Marys to the tomb. We have heard the angel of the Most High reveal that CHRIST IS ALIVE! Now, come to this table and see - see the Risen Christ for yourself. Let Him come into our lives today and transform us into the people He calls us to be. Let us be free to cry: the Lord is risen! ALLELUIA!