What a week it had been. Last Sunday rang with the jubilant cries of “Hosanna, to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mt. 21.9) Over the next few days, tables would be overturned, money-changers would be chased from the temple, a fig tree would be cursed, parables would be taught, questions asked, woes issued, a lament uttered, eschatology taught, plots conspired, and Passover transformed.
The night sweated with the fervent, urgent prayers of the Galilean. Disciples snoozed. One betrayed. A throng approached. And Christ submitted . . . to the Father’s will and the hands of a mob.
Friday witnessed mock trials. Cries for Barabbas. Scourgings and beatings. And the looming shadow of a fateful stone-willed hill.
Friday was exhausted by death. Darkness. Hopelessness. Travail. Wailing. The Voice quieted. The Life limp on a cruel, wooden instrument of pain and death.
Words carried that day. “I find no fault in him.” “What would you have me do with him?” “Crucify!” “Crucify!” “Crucify!” “Behold the man.” “Give us Barabbas!” “Crucify him!” “Crucify him!” “Crucify him!” “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” “It is finished!” “Into Your hands I commit my spirit.”
No idle words.
Saturday hushed in silence, in fear. Gloom loomed heavy over the hearts and minds of the disciples. Questions weighed on their minds. Doubts pierced their hearts. Fear played havoc with their faith. Saturday came and went. So unlike the day before . . . uneventful. No shouts. No screams. No earthquakes. Hush had fallen like sleep over weary bodies.
And in the tombs, countless tombs, that Saturday Death sat as Victor. Sin reigned and had reigned since a fertile garden in antiquity. Legions of angels stooped their heads. Legions of fallen angels clambered in shouts and cheers of revelry.
And in the tombs there was silence.
And in the tombs there was darkness.
And in the tombs there was decay and stench.
And in the tombs the sting of death, which is sin, held court.
Yet, Saturday was terminal. It ended. And Sunday dawned.
And in the tombs dead men lay dead.
But, in one tomb (and it took only one) deep in the clutches of death, stricken by the age-old curse, afflicted with Adam’s fall . . . in the darkness, a solitary heartbeat pierced the silence, muscles twitched, eyelids fluttered, and a mouth opened and drew in breath, exhuming death . . . and the Resurrection and the Life awoke!
The first Adam had fallen, but this second Adam had risen!
It only took Resurrection waking up, getting up, rolling away a stone so all could see. It only took one tomb to give hope to all those who would follow and believe; that their tomb too will one day burst forth in resurrection glory!
And as the sun rose early that Sunday morning, it bore witness to the truth that the Son had already risen.
And words once again held sway. The silence of Saturday was broken with angelic voice.
The angel exclaimed, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!” (Lk. 24.5-6)
Paul would later proclaim,
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . . Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15.1-4, 54-57)
If I may humbly offer my version of the great poem by John Donne in the light of today, Resurrection Sunday:
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou are not so,
For, One, whom you thought, you would overthrow,
Died yes, poor death, not for thou, but for me
Three days he slept, many there did see,
Behind stone, he lay still beneath thy throes,
Yet soon, our Best Man, would thee overthrow,
Rest of his bones, our souls delivery.
Thou art now slave to Him, Lord and King, the God-Man,
Thou poison done, no longer with thee He dwells,
For He has sounded, the tolling of thy bell,
O death where is thy victory, thy hold on man?
The Life with thee, He did not long abide,
Now death thou art no more; death, thou hast died.