The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
April 17th, 2022 – Easter Sunday - John 20:1-9
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A blessed Easter to all of you. For two-thousand years this day, Easter Sunday, has been thought of as the most important day of the year. And for very good reason. It recalls and celebrates God’s response to the most important question we humans ask. We know that we all die, but then what? We have recently recalled the death of Jesus and his burial in a borrowed tomb. It was above ground, somewhat like a cave. We were also given other interesting details about this event in John’s gospel.
After being brought there, a large stone was placed to secure its entrance. And that act of burial could have been the end of it all. Clearly a tragic end for Jesus of Nazareth and for those who pinned their hopes on all that he said and did. But his burial was not the end. In fact, it was the beginning of a new understanding and enactment of God’s creative power that supports us not only now, but after we die. God created each of us to live forever with God and who knows what else.
What I appreciate in today’s gospel is its attention to detail. It reads almost like a newspaper account or a report on the evening news. It answers key questions like who, what, where and when, although not much is said about how, other than it was done by God. It places what happened into an account of actual historical events happening in our world. This is not presented as fantasy, but as reality.
The humanity of Jesus - conceived in Mary, born in Bethlehem, growing up in Nazareth, teaching and helping people throughout the Holy Land, crucified and executed by the Romans in Jerusalem - now lives in a new way. He is no longer in the tomb.
He is called elsewhere in Scripture “the firstborn from the dead.” And who else will be born from the dead? You and me. And all who have lived before us and all who will live after us!
That empty tomb is Ground Zero for all of us who will rise from being dead in ways we can hardly imagine. That’s why Easter is truly a feast of life, of our lives that will never be extinguished by death.
Today’s feast is the Great Celebration of Life – of God’s gift of existence to you and to me. As St. Paul wrote: This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.
©David M. Thomas, PhD