The following day – in other words, the day after that of Preparation – the chief priests and the Pharisees congregated before Pilate and said, ‘Your Excellency, we recall how that deceiver said while he was alive, “After three days I will rise.” Will you, then, order that the tomb be made secure until the third day? Otherwise his disciples may come and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead” – a final deception that would be worse than the first.’ Pilate told them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go and make it as secure as possible.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing it with a stone and leaving a guard in charge. [Matthew 27:62-66]
How many of you have seen one of the inflatable toys called Boppers? They are great fun for young and old, and really good at getting rid of any frustrations! No matter how hard or how often you knock them over, they will always bounce back up again! There is something of that idea in the story of the resurrection, for we see there a supreme demonstration of the God who cannot be kept down. The enemies of Jesus had conspired together, determined finally to do away with him; and as they cut him down, limp and lifeless from the cross, sealing him away in a tomb, they must have been convinced that they had succeeded – and just in case, they placed a guard outside the tomb to be sure. Nothing was being left to chance.
Yet none of that mattered, for the next day what did they find? The stone rolled away, the tomb empty and their worst fears realised. How could it be? What could have happened? These are very good questions that anyone who disputes the resurrection still needs to answer. Hatred and fear had done their worst but the love of God could not be kept down. Christ was risen! And it is as true today as it ever was. Even when we cannot gather together for the moment resurrection will come. The Church is not dead and whilst it seems we have been in a cold dark tomb for far too long, soon, very soon, we will celebrate the resurrection of Christ together! Ultimately there is nothing and no-one (not even Covid-19) that can frustrate the will of God. Though many still try and sometimes seem to succeed, we have a God who will finally triumph, and who gives us the victory in turn.
God bless and Happy Easter to you all.
P.S. Just to let you know that after Easter Sunday I start my sabbatical, as well as taking some-needed holiday and seeing my grandchildren. I will be studying a contemplative prayer practice called Visio Divina which pairs reading Scripture with meditation and prayer using contemporary images. Hopefully I will have something to share with you once I am back amongst you early August.