We might not have Easter eggs, or even fresh eggs, lamb or Easter cake but we can still recall why today is Easter Day just as prisoners of war or those behind the Iron Curtain did. We can live the first Esater Day in real time.
What happened today
Matthew 28.1-15; Mark 16.1-18; Luke 24.1-49; John 20.1-26
It is still dark when Mary from Magdala near the Sea of Galilee, Mary who was mother of Apostle St James the Less, and Joanna arrive at the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Christ.
They are wondering who will move the stone at the entrance and hoping that the guards will do so for them.
When Mary Magdalen realises that the stone has already been rolled back she turns away. Soon after she sees Peter and John who are also on their way and she runs towards them warning that Christ’s body seems to have been removed. The two shocked disciples start running to the tomb. John makes it there first and looking through the opening sees the linen cloths which had been wrapped round the body folded up on the floor.
When Peter arrives he goes straight in and finds the cloth which had been put over the head. Then incredulous John goes inside as the two realise that Jesus’ warnings were true.
The two shocked disciples leave and Mary Magdalen who had remained crying outside goes inside. She sees two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been. They ask why she is crying.
‘They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him,’ she says turning to go. She is confronted by another figure whom she mistakes for the gardener. As she pleads to be told where the body had been taken, the man speaks revealing himself as Christ by saying in his familiar voice ‘Mary’.
‘Master,’ she replies in recognition as he warns her not to embrace him as he is not yet ascended to heaven.
‘Go and tell my brothers,’ he requests. ‘And tell them I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’
The Ascension would happen before the summer. Meanwhile Mary goes to find the others who, of course, do not believe her.
During the afternoon two disciples, not members of the remaining Eleven but Cleophas and another who may have been his wife
Mary, are walking from Jerusalem towards Emmaus seven miles away.
They are joined by a stranger who appears to know nothing of the recent events in Jerusalem involving Jesus. The two recount their experiences and then the stranger recalls all the Old Testament passages which foretell these events. They ask their interesting and sympathetic companion to join them at an inn rather than press on alone. At the table the stranger takes bread, blesses it and hands it to them. He disappears as the two realise that Christ had been with them.
Although it was the end of the day they race back to Jerusalem arriving almost certainly by early evening to tell the Eleven. Still the other disciples do not believe that Jesus has appeared even though he may have risen from the dead.
In the evening in Jerusalem ten of the original Twelve are gathered behind closed doors. Thomas is elsewhere. Jesus appears amongst them saying ‘Peace be with you’. He shows them his injured hands and side before saying: ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me so I am sending you.’
He anticipates Pentecost by breathing on them saying ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain they are retained’. Then they watch him eat a piece of their grilled fish.
Late night or later
When Thomas hears about Christ’s appearance from the others he remained doubtful refusing to believe anything unless he can touch the wounds himself.