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Friday had taken everyone by surprise. In many ways. In fact, it would be fair to say that in the eyes of Jesus’ friends, absolutely nothing had gone to plan. The speed of it all was shocking and disorienting, a real head-spinner. 

If you were to walk past the row of crosses this morning, then you’d see a couple of bodies still nailed there. Maybe dead. Maybe nearly dead. Execution on a cross was a long, painful and cruelly drawn-out affair, deliberately so. 

Yet Jesus had died quickly. Too quickly. It was never meant to be like that. The speed of his death and the onset of sundown which began the enforced rest of the sabbath day meant that the authorities had agreed to his body being taken down and rushed into a local tomb. A modicum of dignity afforded to the dead. 

But the hurry had meant that things had not been done properly. 

His body had been taken down from the cross and wrapped in some cloth, maybe thrown on the back of a cart to get it quickly across town and placed in a tomb before the sun set. Anyone doing this work or touching this body in the darkness which welcomed sabbath would have made themselves unclean before God…that’s why they hurried. 

That’s also why they had not been able to do it properly and why they had not been able to do it with love. And love was all they had left. 

So early on Sunday morning, some women rose early and hurried along back streets and side alleys to get to the tomb. They carried with them some spices and oils. The body of their friend would soon stink in the mediterranean heat. He deserved respect in death and his body should be cleaned, cleansed and scented. Then wrapped properly and moved to an appropriate burial place. 

Arriving at the site of the tomb it struck the women that their plan was riddled with holes. 

It was guarded by Roman sentries, ensuring no pesky tourists, sight-seers or disciples messed around with anything. These soldiers would never let them through. Not only that, the soldiers stood in front of a huge stone, rolled over the doorway to the tomb by several men. Designed to be impossible for individuals (humans or animal) to move easily.

Surely this realisation made them slow down? Maybe glance at each other as it slowly dawned on them that they might not be able to honour their friend after all? 

It is in this state of bleary eyed confusion that the women discover that the soldiers have gone AWOL. The tomb is accessible because the stone seems to have rolled away, and the place where they placed the lifeless body now holds nothing. 

Confused and afraid, they step out into the gardens. Somebody might be watching them? Someone is making things worse! Someone should tell the other disciples…things are getting worse and maybe the authorities will be coming for them next?

Delirious with exhaustion, grief and fear, one of the women bumps into a strange man as she stumbles through the garden. He steadies her…she fights back, maybe punches out? “What have you done with him?” she accuses this stranger. He is at the scene of the crime, it must have been him that did something to the body she longs to annoint. 

“Who is it that you seek?” asks the man. 

It’s the voice. The voice sends an electrifying jolt through her body. It robs her of breath and acts like smelling salts on her senses. 

She knows that voice. She was not expecting it, but she knows it. 

And so. Today, this Easter, may you too know the unexplainable and unexpected voice of the kind and strong Jesus. May you be held in your confusion. May you know joy in abundance. May the story of unstoppable love strike you as wonderful and the bringer of life strike you as worthy of worship. May any grief you know be comforted by compassion, and may you be given energy and excitement for the adventure as you continue to seek the presence of the Master. 


For he has risen. Alleluia. He has risen indeed!