Golgotha is a tragic scene, and we must never forget it or minimize it. We shun scenes of suffering and seek to avoid it in our lives. But some suffering is unavoidable. Golgotha, though tragic and repulsive, is necessary if we seek eternal life. There is no other way to God except we go through Golgotha. The scene we see there is tragic; He whom we thought was The Son of God is being put to death by Roman authorities. The method of death is the most painful and tragic type of death that the Romans could conceive. What happened on that hill that day killed every ray of hope that His followers had. The women who were there, and who were the most faithful followers, lost all hope as they watched the proceedings. They observed as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus from the cross and carefully wrapped it in a linen covering. They carefully noted where His body was placed in Joseph’s tomb.

These are the same devoted ladies who are at the tomb early, while it is still dark, on the first day of the week after the sabbath. As they walk towards the tomb, they question who will roll the stone from the tomb? This shows me that these ladies were not in an expectant mood. It was a dreary, early morning walk and they did it because of the respect they had for the man they saw die.

As they approach the area of the tomb, they realize that the stone has been removed. I attempt to imagine the scene. They approach with hesitation, wondering if grave robbers or the Romans have molested the body. They get close enough to peer inside and are shocked beyond words. Sitting where the body was laid, is an angel! The angel merely says, “why seek you the living among the dead?”

Put yourself in their place. What would be your response? This is incredulous! I observed, as they carefully carried the body from the site of the death and placed Him right there! Now He is gone, and an angel asks a profound question. There is no recorded answer from the ladies, except that they fled the scene; was it in horror, or was it in joy. It must have been confusion, because of what they said to the Apostles when they found them. They said, “they have taken His body…”. There was no thought of resurrection. HE WAS GONE!

By putting all the Gospel accounts together, we get the following picture:
After the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, a group of Jewish leaders (probably from the Sanhedrin) went to Pilate and said, “we remember when this man was alive, He talked about rising from the dead. We ask that a guard be stationed at the tomb to make sure the body of this man is not stolen and thus make fools of us.”

So, Pilate posted a guard of Roman Legionaries to observe and keep the tomb safe. Early, on the first day of the week, there was an earthquake. An angel descended and rolled away the stone. The legionnaires stationed at the tomb fainted from fear. Life was returned to Jesus by The Father. Jesus rose from where He had been laid. The angel descended and sat where His body had been.

It is into this scene that these women walked. They find the empty tomb. They observe His grave clothes folded and placed where His body had been. The angel speaks to the women and says, “do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified; He has risen, and He is not here; behold, here is the place where His body was laid. Go now and tell His disciples and Peter that He is going to Galilee before you.”

I think you and I would react in the same way they did. “They went out and fled from the tomb for trembling and astonishment had gripped them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
It is in this setting we find Mary of Magdalene. The others had fled, but Mary sits outside the tomb some distance away. She is overcome with grief. Jesus had been her friend and her life had been so changed by Him. For some reason, the message of the angel had not registered with her. In her mind, He was gone. She is stunned. She is overcome with grief. It is then that she became aware that there was someone near. She says, “Sir, if they have carried His body away, please tell me where…”. “MARY.”

I think it is impossible for us to totally grasp the emotions of this moment as that name– her name– came to her ears in a voice that had become so familiar to her. In a moment’s time, she turned to look. Who called her name like that? Whose voice was that, that sounded so much like “His” voice? In less time than it takes me to write these words, she realizes that what the angel said is true. It was Him. It was the Messiah that had turned her life from one of despair into a productive life, full of hope and joy.

She grasped His feet out of sheer joy, and hope filled her life, hope that all was not lost.

I do not know where this Easter finds you emotionally and spiritually. One of the things I find in this first Easter story is that of fulfilled hope. While His followers had lost all hope, the risen Christ renewed that hope. When Hope is gone, life is gone. There is nothing to live for.

We cannot wind time back to this event and be the ones who initially experienced this event. However, you can find the risen Christ in the midst of your hopelessness today. As He brought life to His original followers, He can bring life to you today.

By saying a simple prayer wherever you may be today, Jesus is still able to bring Life.

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