Tag Archives: tomb

Rolled Away

26 Apr

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Every year I learn something new from the Resurrection account.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:1-6

Come, see! How have I never seen it before?!?

The angel rolled the stone away. I’ve known that since I was a child.

Jesus didn’t need the tomb to be opened to get out! He was no longer bound by the physical.

I’ve just assumed (since I was a child) that the angel rolled away the stone to let Jesus out. But He isn’t mentioned – surely if the guards or the women had seen Him exit, the angel wouldn’t have needed to tell the women (the guards, being sturdy stock, missed it due to a fainting spell).

If Jesus was already gone from the tomb, why did the angel roll away the stone?

I have two ideas – neither have been checked out with experts, so I may be way off. However, for what they are worth, here are my ideas.

Heralding a King

When royalty came into a village, criers and guards went first announcing who would be coming down the road. The angel in Matthew 28 fulfills this role for The King – as do the (gasp!) women! God passes the Resurrection news from heavenly being to the ones who had come to honor His Son’s body with spices– culturally inferior messengers, much like the shepherds at His nativity.

Jesus came into the world and conquered death with an announcement from an angel. Fitting for The King!

Rolling Away

The angel makes sense, but what about the stone being rolled away? If Jesus was already gone, the most obvious reason is for others to go in.

My favorite line during our Easter program was from Mary Magdalene when a guard asks her if she had seen the empty tomb. With hushed awe she shares, “I walked inside it!”

The women, and later the disciples (and probably several guards and a commander, too) walked into the chamber where Jesus had lain dead– into the place where the world thought had death won and hope had died. What did they think about when they were inside it? Did they pick up His wrappings? Was it the same as before Jesus was laid there, or had the tomb been changed with the Resurrection?

And what went through their mind as they exited? Did the leave anything in the tomb?

Despair? Hate? Self-righteousness? Doubt?

God removed the barrier so they could go into the tomb– He accomplished the same when He ripped the veil in the temple– and see that he wasn’t a captive to death, that no power could keep him there.

And so we could shed all that confines us from seeing Him.

———-

Ready for Sunday

Imagining myself in the coolness of a stone tomb, slightly musty and very still, I pause, all my senses heightened. I don’t know if Mary took time that morning to take it all in and reflect on what the tomb represented, but two centuries later with 20/20 hindsight, I have the opportunity.

What blocks me from seeing Him?

I’m leaving those things in the pile of grave clothes, and walking out into the fresh morning, heart full and ready to worship.

Ripped

5 Apr

Piano hands

Explaining, like I did every Tuesday afternoon that the circle with the little line through it was Middle C, I knew by the look in his eyes he didn’t get it.  (Again.) We’d been at it since last fall.

So we dragged out the foot piano* and played a game. I pointed to the key and played the piano note as he “played” Twinkle Twinkle with his feet. Then he joined my on the bench and played it (almost) perfectly. His enthusiasm made up for his lack of understanding, and we fist-pumped and high-fived his effort.

But I longed for him to get it!

I knew the world that would open up when he could understand the correspondence of printed note to piano key. All he could play was what he knew – and a 5-year-old’s repertoire include little Beethoven or Brahms or Debussy. The rich and vast piano literature remained closed to him.

Until the day I saw the flash cross his face.

He looked at me, a smile spreading slowly across his understanding. Studying the music, then moving his fingers on the keys, he played his first mind/hand masterpiece.

——

The Israelites longed for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai. He had been up there (again) for 40 days getting another copy of the covenant. When he descended, his face burned into their dim eyes, so he covered his head with a veil.

As they wandered in the desert, the Twelve Tribes constructed the Tabernacle as the Lord instructed through Moses. Later, Solomon built a temple for the Lord after they settled in the Promised Land.  In both of these places of worship a veil hung between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place separating Holy God from sinful man.

Today the word veil brings to mind sheer cloth like tulle or nylon netting worn by a bride, not the Temple veil that protected the Israelites from Almighty God– and certain death. There was nothing light and filmy about it. Bible resources say the veil was 4-6 inches thick and about 60 feet high by 30 feet wide – a virtually impenetrable, but somewhat flexible, divider.

Immediately after Jesus gave us his spirit, this veil was torn from the top to the bottom, removing the barrier between God and man. At the same time the earth shook and rocks were split. An earthquake can be explained away as a natural occurrence, and rocks crack from its tremendous force. But fabric, even 4-6 inches thick, does not crack. Unless the temple fell (it did not until 40 years later) fabric would have been resilient– moving perhaps, but not ripping.

Hung its full height: 60 feet high by pillars, the veil could not have been ripped by human agency. Physically this would have been impossible, especially since the ripping started from the top. Symbolically, the top-to-bottom ripping points to divine rending.

Three days later, God also removed the weighty stone that sealed the tomb where Jesus had been laid.

When the protective nature of the veil and the stone changed to a barrier, God removed them.

So we can see him.

So we can “get it” – understand how much he loves us.

So we can have an almost-barrier-free relationship with him.

The last barrier is death. After that we will truly see him as he is.

———-

Ready for Sunday

If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

The death and resurrection of Jesus gives his followers the unfathomable privilege of direct access to God. Do I “get it”? Do I understand – and take advantage of – the access Jesus bought for me with his death?

How can I communicate that God “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”?

Do those I lead “get it” because of my example, or am I a barrier between them and God?

———-

*A vinyl shade removed from the roller on which I had drawn piano keys big enough for a 5-year-old foot to “play” the notes. Using gross motor skills is sometimes easier than the fine finger skills used to play an instrument.  The foot piano eliminates half of the fine-motor + intellectual info difficulty, allowing the student to just focus on the information while playing a game (and expend some excess wiggles!)

Inner Child

26 Mar
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.  Mark 18:8
 

The look on their faces was a magnet, drawing me in.

Giggling while sharing secrets with tender hands cupped from mouth to listener’s ear, sister and brother turned front-and-center on cue to sing about the Resurrection.

No fear.

They didn’t know any better – that they were supposed to be terrified because being on stage is scarier than death.  Instead, every ounce of their wiggly bodies belted out “It’s all because of Jesus I’m alive!”  The lack of  self- or audience-consciousness made watching the moment between these two heart-wrenchingly sweet.

The hearts of three other friends, all grown up, were painfully wrenched from their understanding.

Before the sun rose the morning after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome entered the tomb where Jesus had been laid.  They came to the right place, but the scene was all wrong.  Their Lord had been crucified and entombed, but the stone was moved and his body was missing.  A man was there.  He told them to go tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus had risen.  The three women trembled (scared out of their wits – literally) and were so bewildered (confused or disoriented so that grasp on reality is lost) that they fled, shaking uncontrollably, faster than their sandal-ed feet had ever carried them.

These two scenarios collided in my mind this morning, and I wondered if children had been the first to see the angel and to hear that Jesus had risen, if their response would have been different from the women’s.

When my sons were young, they eagerly investigated what they didn’t understand.  Skipping toward a billy goat with happy curiosity, they were stunned when they got head-butted onto their bottoms, but they dusted themselves off and chased after him.  Their drive to run toward the unknown was insatiable!

Twenty centuries of hindsight is 20/20; I understand that.  It’s risk-free for me with the four Gospels lying on my lap to wish I had been the first to enter the empty tomb and talk with the angel.  (I have so many questions I’d like to ask him!)  So today I’m praying for childlike spiritual curiosity – the boldness to run toward the unknown, arms outstretched in eagerness and anticipation as my spiritual feet cover the ground of empirical knowledge in an instant.

Because at the end of my sprint, my Father waits with strong, wide-open arms, and I will launch with abandon into them.

————–

Heart-check for Sunday:

What keeps me from running toward God?  My own understanding?  Fear?  Something else?

What is the root of these things?  What would God have me do with them?

How can having childlike faith change the way I lead others?

Truth to remember

  • Perfect love casts out fear.  1 John 4:18
  • A little child shall lead them.  Isaiah 11:6
  • Unless you become like little children, you can not enter the Kingdom.  Matthew 18:3
  • The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The righteous run to it and are safe.  Proverbs 18:10
  • The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  1 John 4:4
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