Coming off of a double shift workday at 11 p.m., I was looking forward to my 30-minute motorcycle ride home in the late night air. In those days of my youth I could pull a double shift and still be ready for work the next morning — and I could ride a motorcycle!
When I reached the parking area and did not see my bike, there quickly rose a sickening feeling in my stomach. Maybe I had parked in a different spot after supper break. I walked all around the parking area looking, and then I had the idea that some of my coworkers were playing a prank on me. I looked behind buildings and bushes, every place I could imagine.
Finally, the realization hit me: someone had stolen my motorcycle. The time it took for me to search the premises, wait for the police, complete the complaint and report form, and find a way home, I was in bed by 3 a.m. However, I could not relax and sleep. I continuously replayed the last few hours over and over in my head. Unbelievable! There would be no sleep for me that night.
It is almost a sacrilege to compare a lost motorcycle to any part of the Easter story, but I may have at least a slight idea of how Mary and the other women felt when they arrived at the tomb to give Jesus a proper burial, only to find that the body was missing. The stone had been rolled away from the grave, and there was no Jesus to be found. Among their initial thoughts must have been, “Someone has taken his body.”
We can imagine the questions as they pondered for answers to this unexpected turn of events. And I wonder if deep inside, they experienced a sickening feeling that things had gone from bad to worse. Of all the ways they might have pictured this hour in their minds, certainly it did not include a missing body.
According to the gospel writers, an angel explained that the one whom they had come to see, Jesus the Nazarene, was not there; he had risen. John’s gospel records that a man whom Mary supposed to be the gardener spoke her name, and at that moment she realized that it was Jesus himself. He was alive!
They hurried back to tell the disciples what they had found, and then Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves. Scripture records several post-resurrection appearances of Jesus before His ascension to heaven.
We are prone in our day to forget just how real this was as it all unfolded before them. Jesus, the Anointed One, sent from heaven to save the world, was gone. Their Hope had been crucified, dead, and buried. They still believed, but they did not understand. Then, just as unexpectedly as when they arrived at the tomb, they went from deep sorrow to exuberant joy once they saw His promise become reality. He is risen; this is Easter!
He is not merely alive; He IS life. He calls your name and waits with open arms to welcome you — and all who choose to believe — into His everlasting Kingdom
Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.