We actually don’t know what happened to Jesus and his body. Crucifixion was a brutal tool of execution and oppression by the Roman Empire. Jesus died on the cross, not as atonement for our sins, but for his radical and seditious message that the first shall be last and the last shall be first in the coming Kin-dom of God. It is highly unlikely that the Roman authorities gave him a trial before the Jews, even more unlikely that his body was laid in empty tomb. Much more likely, Jesus was dropped into a common grave, in the so called Potter’s field which was occasionally set on fire to dispose of the corpses. Much more likely is the lament in the Gospel of John by Mary Magdalene, his closest disciple who cried. “They have taken my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:13). Her anguish, so familiar to so many of us, is the anguish of a world lost in her love for the man who showed such promise. I can imagine Mary wailing that Proverb of Ashes from the Book of Job to the disciples: “Your words are only proverbs of ashes; nothing but clay.” A fitting agony in a field of carnage, at the base of a cross which had taken the life of the one she so loved.
So the question becomes this on Easter Sunday: If Jesus body is lost to history, a proverb of ashes, what did his life mean? What was truly resurrected in his memory?
I would offer you this: Jesus embodied the hope that all will be well again. That suffering will pass and life restored in this or another to come. I offer you the possibility that we are made new by being together through our struggles towards a new day, a new season, a life yet to be lived.
Happy Easter, John