Who is Going to Tell?
By Rev. Dr. Timothy Bias
Christ Is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
I have opened Easter Sunday worship with those words for over 40 years. I believe them. I trust them. I live by them. But today, the words feel different. I think it is because the world is different. All that has taken place over the past several weeks has been so surreal, yet, the deep and profound truth of the Resurrection is real. Even in the midst of all the crazy unpredictable anxiety in which we are now living, the truth of the Resurrection is real. Here is why.
I think we are experiencing something similar to what the women experienced when they came to the tomb. They must have been terribly shocked and numb. One day they are eating and praying with Jesus and the next day they witness his arrest, conviction, and sentence to death. I think they asked themselves, “Is this really happening? How did we get here?”
It must have been surreal to watch him be nailed to a cross as a criminal, raised high in humiliation, and die hanging exposed to the world. They must have felt sick watching and not having any power or control to stop it.
Yet, in the midst of their helplessness, they felt they needed to do something. So, trying to make sense of what they were experiencing, they decide to do the only thing they can do, care for the body of their friend.
When they arrive to anoint the body, they experience another shock. His body is not where it was supposed to be. While looking for Jesus, they are confronted by a stranger with the message, “He has been raised. He is not here. Go and tell…”
This news was so overwhelming and life changing that “they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
From this side of the Resurrection it seems strange that they said nothing to anyone. We want to shout it, “He is risen. He is risen indeed.” It is wonderful news. And it is so overwhelming and life changing we want to sing about it, and have special activities to celebrate it. But from inside the experience, the women are so profoundly moved they can’t say anything.
As a child, I occasionally spent the night with my grandmother. I remember how much I loved her. Whether it was the meals she prepared or the hugs she shared, when I was with her, all was right with the world. I heard it once expressed this way, “Between us there was no distance, only intimacy.”
One night I noticed she was not in her chair in the family room. I walked into the kitchen; she was not there. I went from room to room, until I walked in on her kneeling at the foot of her bed. Just for a moment, I heard her pray. I had not heard her cry out before, but as she prayed, she cried out for members of the family, for friends at church, and for conditions in the world.
I was frozen in place as my heart pounded in my chest. Then I slowly backed out of the room. I remember feeling fear. But it was not like being scared as much as it was a profound respect. I wanted to speak but I was so deeply moved that I lost my breath.
In the intimate distance of the moment it is clear. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint the body. Then, they fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Jesus is dead. You ask his friends, he’s dead; you ask his mother, he’s dead; and yet we believe that God gives life to the dead. We believe it so deeply and profoundly we sometimes draw our breath in pain to tell the story, especially in the midst of the shock and disruption of a pandemic.
When you experience the intimacy of God’s love that nothing can take away from you, it is your story to tell. Even if Easter is different. You can’t quarantine God’s love. As much as you try, you can’t distance yourself from God’s love. Even when you try to hang it on the cross, nothing — absolutely nothing — can keep God from loving you. That’s the story of the resurrection. So, maybe for the first time, the resurrection will not get lost in the colored eggs, chocolate rabbits, new clothes, and spring break.
Today, experience the presence of God in a deep and profound way. So deep and profound that when these women do speak, you will not only listen, but you too will have a resurrection story to tell. He is risen! Go and tell!
Today, with whom will you share your experience of the Resurrection?
O God, hold us so close that there is no distance but intimacy between us. Give us the faith we need to experience you so deeply and profoundly that you take our breath away, and breathe into us new life. We pray in the name of the risen Lord Jesus. Amen.
Reflect upon the scripture and your interactions of the day.
With whom did you share your experience of the Resurrection? When were you so deeply moved that you lost your breath?
Comment below or use a journal to record how God is with you each day of this journey.