Imagine it was 2000 years ago, the Sunday morning after Jesus’ death. Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ mother walk up to the tomb where he had been buried two days earlier. As they approach they notice that the guards are no longer there, plus the large bolder that was covering the tomb has been moved. Confused and probably a little nervous Mary Magdalene peers into the tomb expecting to find Jesus’ body resting there. Instead, she finds two angels in place of his body. One of angels looks up at the women and says, “Do not be afraid, I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen…” Excited, the two women run to tell their friends, the disciples, what has happened.
Out of breath, Mary Magdalene tries to explain to the disciples what has just occurred: “Jesus…he’s..no longer buried…he…he’s risen!” But the disciples couldn’t believe this crazy story. They had seen Christ die, they had seen him cry out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” There is no way that the tomb was empty. Their savior, their king, their reason for living had been killed…these women must be crazy.
Then a funny thing happens on the way to Emmaus. Later that afternoon, two of the disciples are walking and talking. They’re trying to figure what has happened this past week in Jerusalem. Their Messiah, the one who was supposed to make their lives better, had just died…and things have actually gotten worse. But during their two hour walk a stranger approaches them and asks, “What are you guys talking about?”
In sheer amazement the two disciples respond: “Where have you been? Haven’t you seen all the crowds and the yelling and the fighting in Jerusalem this past week. It’s all because of a man named Jesus of Nazareth.” They then share their story of following and believing and loving the son of carpenter who claimed to be God. After two hours of retelling the story of Christ, the disciples reach their destination. Noticing that it is beginning to get dark, Peter invites the stranger to stay the evening.
At supper, the stranger takes the seat at the head of the table. Befuddled, the two disciples decide to sit down next to him. Then Peter reaches out for the food to bless it, but the stranger has already grabbed the bread, given thanks and broken it. Suddenly, Peter and the other disciples realize who this is. They remember sitting with this stranger just four days earlier. They remember Jesus breaking the bread and given thanks. His face is different, but those eyes…those eyes are exactly the same. Their hearts leap as they realize it is true: Their Lord has Risen, and here he is sitting beside them.
Then they begin to blush as they realize the harsh words they had given the stranger on the road to Emmaus. Of course he knew what had happened this past week; he was the one who went through the pain of the cross for them.
Peter turns to ask Jesus thousands of questions, but notices that the stranger has disappeared. Immediately the two disciples, with tears of joy, leave their dinner and sprint the 6 miles back to Jerusalem. Exhausted, they find the house where their friends—the disciples, Jesus Mother and Mary Magdalene—were hanging out. Without knocking, they burst through the door screaming, “It’s true! The Lord has Risen! He was with us! We talked with him! God is alive!”
The women weren’t crazy, the tomb really was empty. The God who created each of us came to this earth not to give us a list of rules to follow, but to show us how much he loves us. Jesus is alive and moving in each of our lives. So when you come to church on Easter morning, burst through the doors, remembering that we are celebrating the fact that Jesus is alive!