Earlier in the year, I was thinking about a particular text in Matthew for my Easter sermon. The verses are not typical for Easter Sunday and are certainly not in our lectionary readings for this special day and so I dismissed the notion on grounds that it was just too unconventional. This being one of the most unconventional Easters of our time, I think that I will go back to them. It is a scene that takes place on Good Friday and Matthew is the only one to tell us about it. “The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”(Matthew 27:52, 53)
What a strange story! I never really thought about it too much, but stop for a minute and think about this bizarre situation. There is an earthquake on Friday afternoon and people, who were obviously known in the community as being saints, were resurrected but stayed in their tombs until after Jesus came out of his tomb on Sunday morning. What a Holy Saturday that must have been! What did they do? What did they talk about while they waited in those tombs? Were they hungry, bored? There is so much that we don’t know but I think that they were examples of those of us who have been delivered from death by Jesus’ death and are invited into the waiting of the Resurrection.
Social distancing has given me the opportunity to watch a television series on YouTube called The Chosen. It is the story of Jesus and the people he influenced. The first episode spotlights Mary Magdalene and Nicodemus. The show does not seek to follow the scripture exactly, but adds artistic imagination to the stories that we know so well. Mary is demon possessed and there seems to be no hope for her. Even Nicodemus, the Teacher of Israel, cannot exercise her demons. Jesus finds her, sets her free, and she begins to live a very different life. So much so that the whole community takes notice and they tell Nicodemus that he deserves the credit for the miracle. He knows that this is not true and so he searches for her in order to find out what happened. She says, “I do not know. I was one way and then I was another. In-between, there was Him.”
“I was lost, but now I am found.” “I was blind, but now I see.” Our brothers and sisters who were resurrected on that first Easter would say, “I was dead, and now I am alive. In-between, there was Him.” May this be our testimony as we wait. A very Happy Easter to all.