Daily Devotions for Holy Week

Easter Sunday

Written By Mary C. Earle

When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
—Mark 16:4

Mark’s account of the resurrection begins with Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome trekking to the tomb in order to anoint the body of their dead friend. They are following what is prescribed by Jewish religious law.

And I do not doubt that their mood was somber, subdued, and deeply sad. As they walk they pragmatically wonder how they will get to the body. “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” (Mark 16:3) It is a reasonable, practical question. How are they to accomplish the ritual anointing of the body if the stone is still in place? There are three of them, but it is a large, very heavy stone.

And then we have the first real hint that something extraordinary is going on. The stone has already been moved. Their efforts are not needed. They do not have to push and shove, heave and sweat. Instead, the open mouth of the tomb confronts them—a disconcerting moment for sure.

It leads us to wonder—what in our own lives is beyond our capability to move or to roll away? What is beyond our strength, despite our desire and hope? The narrative suggests that sometimes resurrection begins with a stunning, unexpected change in circumstance. A change that we did not anticipate and certainly did not create.

When the women enter the tomb, they find no corpse. Instead there is a young man, dressed in a white robe. They are understandably fearful. The young man tells them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” After adding instructions for the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee, the young man tells them, “You will see him, just as he told you.”

Mark’s gospel tells us that the women were seized with terror and were amazed and said nothing to anyone. (Mark. 16:8) Yet obviously they said something to someone, for we have this account.

What does resurrection look like? It is possible that we haven’t the slightest idea, despite 2,000 years of reflecting on these verses. Resurrection is life, the very Life of God, springing from death. Resurrection is beyond our imagining, beyond our theories.

The life of the infinite God, the Holy Undying One, makes an unpredictable quantum leap, and the stone in our life is rolled away. It may be that we know it when we are amazed, when we cannot bring our experience to speech, when we find the tomb is empty when we least expected it.

Risen Christ, give me the courage to go to my own empty tombs, hoping for the stone to be rolled away. And grant me the grace to await your resurrecting life in me and in the world. Amen.


Copyright © Mary Earle.