Growing up, Easter was never something I considered scary. The day included going to worship with the church building filled with one Easter lily after another. We had ham for dinner. Family gatherings were the norm. We ate lots of chocolate bunnies…lots of chocolate. The message that the risen Christ’s victory over death was wonderfully good news. This wasn’t scary. So this Easter, we read about women encountering the reality of the resurrection first hand at the tomb of Jesus. Their response was fleeing the tomb with fear and silence.
A week ago, the reading left Jesus’ lifeless body being buried. In him, God had taken upon himself our lies, our injustice, our abuse, our remedy for all trouble causers – death. Jesus put all our sin to death on the cross with him. So when some women went to the tomb with spices for Jesus’ body, the tomb was open and the body was gone. A young man dressed in white told them that the risen Jesus was not where death ruled. Told to tell the news to Peter and the other disciples, they fled and said nothing because they were afraid.
Why the fear? Jesus’ resurrection was the start of God establishing his reign over us and creation. So what does this mean for us? Our grab for power and glory – condemned. Our use of disinformation (lies) to further our goals – condemned. Our ease of denying each other the justice due a child of God – condemned. The casual approach to kill those with whom we disagree or see as opposition – condemned. The very things we surrender our lives for power and glory stand condemned in light of Jesus’ resurrection. God’s kingdom has begun. Everything we know has changed. A new world is at hand, no longer corrupted, defiled or subject to death.
Jesus’ ministry announced that the kingdom of God was at hand. He brought healing to the sick. Wholeness of life to the outcast. Abundance given to the poor and needy. Jesus’ resurrection was God’s declaration that his ministry was how the kingdom of God was to be perceived and made welcome. So when the sick are denied care, we allow hate and prejudice to fill our hearts and the needy are rejected, we stand condemned. This is scary.
This is not the end of the story. The reading also tells us the women were amazed. Amazement is a great description for Easter. The ultimate power of death is broken. A new day has begun with all creation on the way to being restored to wholeness. The neighbor no longer held bound and enslaved will be fully set free. This wonderful news isn’t reserved for some future day, it is for us now. In Jesus risen, God’s reign has begun now. It is at work now among us. This isn’t really scary. It is world changing. It truly is amazing.