Our church’s daily Scripture readings have just finished Easter and I was struck today by the contemporary translations in Matthew that make (scientifically) clear why the stone rolled away from the tomb. “A violent earthquake” opened the door of the tomb, creating the gate for Jesus’ exit from the grave, and perhaps more importantly, provided the gate for the women to discover that he was alive.
I find myself thinking about “violent earthquakes” that myself and others have experienced in our lives. I wonder to what extent they have allowed Jesus more freedom to live in us and have given others more freedom to observe His life.
Jesus’ liberation from death is the first most important moment in Christian history, because it marks the beginning of the end of all death. Just as “death no longer has dominion over him,” in the words of the ancient hymn, so it no longer has power over those who follow him — who actively accept the way of life Jesus commands and live only by his direction.
The second most important moment, of course, is when Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to give Christians the power to do all of this. We are weak, frail beings. After Jesus left the tomb, he told his followers to wait — not to do anything — until he had sent the Holy Spirit to give them power.
Every life faces any number of “violent earthquakes” — from the expected, but heart-wrenching ailments and deaths of parents to major illness in children or siblings to job loss, geographic relocation, limitations from personal illness or natural disaster.
When the earthquake comes, there are two choices. Let the earthquake roll away the stones. Or work desperately, with aching back and bleeding hands, to put the stones back in place.
More Jesus or not? How did you handle your earthquake?