This coming Easter morning will not be like any other. It is now three weeks since the country went into lock down. This year, church doors across the land will be closed, and locked, on the Day of Resurrection.
At the end of Good Friday, Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked him for the body of Jesus. Pilate gave orders for the body to be given to Joseph.
Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a new linen sheet, and placed it in his own tomb, which he had just recently dug out of solid rock.
Matthew tells us that Joseph rolled a large stone across the entrance to the tomb and, having completed the job, Joseph went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were with him.
On the following day, which was the Sabbath, the chief priests and the Pharisees met up with Pilate and persuaded him to put a guard on the tomb.
“Sir,” they implored him, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise again.””
They tell Pilate that Jesus’ disciples might steal the body and make up false claims about him rising from the dead. So, with Pilate’s consent, the authorities go and make the tomb secure, by putting a seal on the stone and leaving a guard on watch.
Matthew tells us, in detail, about these steps taken to ensure that the garden tomb was secure. Jesus had been crucified on Good Friday, but he was still regarded as a threat by the authorities. So, now, his body is in “lock down”.
But, at dawn, on the Sunday morning, when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb, they find that Jesus is not there. Instead, they are greeted by an angel, who says:
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen, just as he said!”
Contrary to popular culture, Easter is not all about bunnies, chocolate eggs and daffodils, but about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the resurrection there would be no New Testament, no Christian faith, no Christian Church, and no hope of heaven.
This year, our world is dominated by the threat of the Covid-19 virus. Many are understandably worried about contracting the virus; many others are frustrated at being trapped in lock down. We don’t know when the church doors will be re-opened.
Yet all around us we see signs of new life. The winter could not hold back the spring. Death could not keep Jesus’ body in the tomb. And, one day, we will no longer be living in fear of Covid-19.
Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Revd Stephen Robertson