Jesus defeated death, by coming back to life on the third day.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
Luke 24 v 1-3 (NIV)
At last it was light. The sun had risen. The Sabbath had ended.
A band of sisters got up at first light and went to the tomb to show their respects and to honour him with a proper burial. They had prepared the necessary spices. They were ready, but they were still nervous. They went together, as you would expect in the Middle East.
We know some of their names: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome and Mary, the mother of James. Sometimes we only hear about the twelve disciples, but Jesus had many other followers, including many women.
As they walked to the tomb they discussed how they would be able to move the stone.
While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
Then they remembered his words.
Luke 24 v 4-8 (NIV)
When they came to the tomb, suddenly two men appeared, with brightly shining clothes. They were presumably angels.
‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’
Well, as humans, it’s obvious. They had watched him die. They knew he was dead.
It’s true that Jesus had said something about being raised back to live again on the third day, but that hadn’t made much sense. They didn’t claim to understand all that Jesus said, but they still followed him and wanted to bury him with honour and respect.
From a heavenly perspective it was also obvious.
The angels knew who Jesus was, the only Son of God, the promised Messiah. They knew where he had come from and they knew why he had come to earth. Jesus had told the women what would happen, so why were they still thinking he was dead?
We think that it’s extraordinary that Jesus came back to life from death. In truth it’s unfathomable that Jesus, the Author and Creator of life, should allow himself to be killed. That he should choose to die.
Of course, death couldn’t hold him. Naturally he came back to life, defeating death.
By dying and rising again to life, Jesus defeated death.
The Women's Story
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
And when the women told the Eleven, the men didn’t believe them. Not much has changed there. Their words seemed like nonsense.
So, the women who had bravely watched Jesus die, while the men hid in fear; the women who had showed their love and done their duty by going to the tomb – these women were belittled by the men.
But Jesus honoured them, by appearing to a woman first, Mary Magdalene.
The account is in John 20 11-18 (NIV)
Living in the Light
In the dawn light nothing is clear. It is difficult to distinguish objects and discern their distance. As the sun rises, everything comes into focus and becomes clearer.
We know we are not creatures of the night. We are created to live in the light. That is true both physically and spiritually. We appreciate transparent, honest folk of integrity. We distrust those who are two-faced. As we come into the light, everything is seen for what it really is.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 3 v 19-21 (NIV)
The women thought that they knew all about life, death and the universe, but their understanding was about to be transformed.
Death, the only certainty of life, was no longer certain.
As Jesus had gone through death and come back to life, we can be sure of a life after death. The fear of death has been destroyed. We can be free of it, if we trust in him.
We have no need to fear evil or the devil, as they too have been defeated.
Darkness is only the absence of light, and so we have nothing to fear.
And we have the light of live.
Jesus said ‘ I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’
John 8 v 12 (NIV)
Leonard Cohen composed this beautiful melody and chorus. The lyrics have been rewritten by Kelley Mooney to make them more appropriate for children and for churches.