From his blog Fellowship of St. Peter Colin Markham’s Resurrection Sunday post is copied here. It expands and explains the extraordinary events begun on Good Friday marking the passion and death of Jesus Christ, to Easter Sunday when, Markham writes, taking us back there, “Just as daylight now pierces the interior of the empty tomb, so the light of divine truth pierces the soul of man, illuminating the darkness, reaching like a sword of justice into the place where vain ambitions and evil plans ferment, exposing all the shallowness and duplicity, all the rebellion and strife. And through the searing pain of the Cross the grace of God bathes humanity with the healing balm of forgiveness (Romans, ch. 8)…”
Have a blessed Easter.
(Guest Post by Colin Markham)
God hear my prayer, do not hide away from my plea, give me a hearing, answer me, my troubles give me no peace.
I shudder at the enemy’s shouts, at the outcry of the wicked; they heap up charges against me, in their anger bring hostile accusations against me.
My heart writhes within me, the terrors of death come upon me, fear and trembling overwhelm me, and shuddering grips me.
And I say, ‘Who will give me wings like a dove, to fly away and find rest?’ (Psalm 55.1-6 NJB)
The first glimmer of light, the third day after the agony of the Cross. A great hush has descended on the land, the silence of iniquity, the silence of kings and governors who murder with impunity in all times and places. On a desolate hill the dew glistens on the tree of anguish, mingling with the blood of torn flesh. The aroma of death hangs like a pall over this place. Nothing stirs, no creature comes near. No bird flutters or alights on beam or post, no glinting eyes peer from beneath stone or leaf, no hoof or claw, no coiled serpent to uncoil when the rays of the rising sun shine on this forsaken mound. And the world sleeps on….
But there is One who has risen from the sleep of death. It is first light in the garden of tombs, the new Eden where evil has been vanquished. The women who had come from Galilee with Jesus and had noted where he had been laid, approach the cave, their eyes reddened with sleepless sorrow. They bring various unguents to anoint the body of the Lord (cf Luke 23.55 – 24.1). They pass among trees that drip with the moisture that the cold damp night has deposited on them. It is as if they too weep, lamenting the passing of him who in the mist of time had witnessed the weaving of their splendour. (See Genesis, ch. 1; Proverbs 8.22-31; John 1.1-5; Colossians 1.15-20; Hebrews 1.1-4).
But what is this? What has happened? The women see that the stone that had been placed over the entrance of the tomb has been rolled back. What can this mean? They peer into the space. The body of the Lord is not there. Two men appear in white raiment, angels of the Lord. Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here, he has risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day. And they remembered his words (Luke 24.2-8 JB).
When the women returned from the tomb they told all of this to the Eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles, but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them (Luke 24.9-11 JB).
Peter, however, went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened. (*Luke 24.12 JB).
Just as daylight now pierces the interior of the empty tomb, so the light of divine truth pierces the soul of man, illuminating the darkness, reaching like a sword of justice into the place where vain ambitions and evil plans ferment, exposing all the shallowness and duplicity, all the rebellion and strife. And through the searing pain of the Cross the grace of God bathes humanity with the healing balm of forgiveness (Romans, ch. 8).
The purport of this event will soon become evident to Christ’s followers through his many resurrection appearances. A new dawn of realisation will rise in hearts and minds presently numbed with sorrow. They will be enlightened. Then, enraptured by joy and fired with zeal, the truth will radiate outwards to capture the world. The first witnesses to the resurrection who will join those sanctified by the breath of God at Pentecost will be among the band of heralds proclaiming the new Way, for the Holy Spirit will invade their spirit to fill them with the fullness of Christ. For now, grief and shock overwhelm the people of God. They are not fully alive to the magnitude of the moment, the mystery of redemption (cf Luke 24.13-49; John 20.19-29; Acts 1.1-11; Romans 5.1-11).
Christ’s death and resurrection are all of a piece, they are indivisible. On the day of his crucifixion time stood still. Now on this mournful morning, this Dawn of dawns, it is the first day of a new era. For Christ to liberate us from the sting of death he must himself be released from death. He also unshackles us from the strictures of legalism, for he is the Word, he is the Light. Those pious women who sought to tend the scarred body of the Lord on that feverish dawn will come to the Light that enlightens mankind and they will see the risen Lord (1 John 1.1-7). They will see as we see (John 8.12).
For Christ’s death to have any meaning there had to be a subsequent narrative of cosmic proportions. This is the crux of the matter, this is the key to it all. If Christ’s death had been a finality, if it had resulted in bodily decay, he would have entered the pages of history as a mere footnote, an inconvenient holy man who had ruffled the religious establishment and paid the ultimate price, a prophet who had spoken truth to power and met with violent persecution.
But the narrative is very different. The Christian faith is about the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah foretold. Holy Scripture contains the revelation of God, the unfolding drama of salvation history, a text inspired by God and written down by holy men for posterity. The whole of the Old Testament moves forward to the New Testament, to a turning point: the life, death and teachings of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, as recorded by men who witnessed the spiritual convulsions manifested during his walk on earth and the spiritual revolution that came in his wake (Acts 2.1-41 passim; 1 Corinthians 2.6-16; Titus 2.11-14).
Christ’s legacy cannot be confined to the annals of prophecy. His purpose, his presence and his teachings are too momentous for that. He is Prophet, Priest and King. He is the unique manifestation of the divine, the summit of God’s salvific plan, the means of redemption, the author of new life in the Spirit. It cannot be understood in any other way; it was not meant to be any other way. The evidence will not allow us to diverge from divine truth. The great tide of history has been intersected by events unheard of in human experience, and the face of the earth has been renewed by the hand of God (Psalm 104.30; Ephesians 1.3-14; 1 Timothy 3.16; 1 Peter 1.3-21).
In the end there is a beginning. In his infinite mercy and forgiveness, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son for our salvation (John 3.16). For Christ to liberate us to live a life of love, as God had intended for humanity at the time of creation, he had to die for the accumulated transgressions of mankind. He had to draw all the derangement of the human condition to himself so as to release us from evil. His sacrifice is the atone-ment for the disfiguring disease of sin. For us to be redeemed and enter eternal life, he had to suffer an ignominious death, conquer evil and rise to glory, creating a path for all who respond to his call and embrace the faith. For us to don the cloak of discipleship is to follow the example of his teachings and actions, to display courage in the face of adversity, to exude the same depth of love and compassion, to be all-consumed by his transforming friendship (John 15.15-17) so that we become the eyes, hands, feet and mind of Christ in the human maze (Matthew 5.1-16).
In Christ the human and the divine are interwoven for the salvation of mankind, and we must keep before us the astounding fact of his victory over evil and death. He bids us to follow him here as citizens of the kingdom of God, and when our labours are done and the evening of life turns to night, to be fully reconciled, to rest with him in eternity (John 14.1-6). With this in mind, this magnificent inheritance, how is it possible, how is it reasonable to disregard our true destiny? Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you (Ephesians 5.14 NJB). Now is the time for foolish dreams to be dispelled, for the sleep of human reason to be awakened by the dawn of enlightenment. Now is the time to seek understanding. Now is the time to be still and acknowledge God (Psalm 46.10 NJB)….to be still and know God. For this is the day which the Lord has made, a day for us to rejoice and be glad (Psalm 118.24 NJB).
Thank you, Colin.