Easter Even – John 19:38-42

| April 3, 2015 | 1 Comment More

Christ in Tomb - MantegnaJohn 19:38-42

Easter Even or Holy Saturday is a quiet and conflicted day.  Sandwiched between the suffering and sadness of Good Friday and the glory and gladness of Easter Sunday, it reminds me of my life in this world.

I, too, seem suspended between two worlds that threaten to tear me apart.  I still dwell in the world of sin that crucified my Lord, and I still suffer in various ways.  Sometimes it even seems as if Easter Sunday never came.  But I am also seated in the heavenlies with Christ, my sins have been washed away, and God has made me righteous through the sacrifice of His Son!

Like my life, Easter Even was a quiet day.  No miracles today, nothing spectacular.  Jesus died, but life still went on.  Somebody had to come and get the body.  That somebody was someone we would least expect: a rich member of the Sanhedrin named Joseph of Arimathea.  He’s a quiet man who doesn’t get much attention.  But he does what needed to be done.  (For more on this amazing, quiet man, see the Give Us This Day meditation for Thursday of Trinity 12, on Luke 23:50-24:12.)

Even after Jesus has risen from the dead, things seem to go on as normal.  In John 20:10, having just seen evidence that Christ was no longer in the tomb, what do the disciples do?  Get busy forming the first church and zealously evangelize the world out of spontaneous joy in their resurrected Lord?  Actually, “the disciples went away again to their own homes” (verse 10) because “as yet they did not know the Scripture that He must rise again from the dead” (verse 9.)

Even after Peter believed and Jesus had convinced even doubting Thomas, Peter goes back to fishing, as if he had no idea what else he should do (21:3.)

On Easter Even, which is like our lives, having known the Scriptures that Christ did rise from the dead, we sometimes go on with life as if nothing had happened.  Even Easter comes and goes and we get happy for a few hours, and then life goes on as normal.

Easter Even reminds me of the painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Brueghel.  In it, Icarus, who had of course flown too high to the sun, has plummeted into the waters, with only his cute little legs unobtrusively sticking out of the water.  He is over to the side in the water, and no one notices, while a large peasant in the foreground goes about his daily task unaware that great Icarus has fallen.  Significantly, the painting is titled Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, as if the landscape is the main subject with Icarus merely decoration. You can see it here: http://www.artchive.com/artchive/B/bruegel/icarus.jpg.html.

Our lives are sometimes a Landscape with the Crucifixion of Christ.  Our plows and fields are what’s important and what get all the attention.  It’s business as usual that occupies our time and thoughts.  And, oh yes, in the corner somewhere is a little cross or maybe a little fish logo on the bumper of our car.

But even when things seem the darkest, even when life is an Easter Even, and Easter and resurrection and Jesus are difficult to see, God has placed reminders of the reality of the Resurrection.  In verse 41 of John 19 we discover that in the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which Jesus was laid.

In this tomb, the Seed of the Woman was planted.  In this tomb, death died.  From this Seed came new life on Easter, and that life has been propagating itself ever since.

In John 20:15, after the Seed has been raised to life imperishable, Mary mistakes Him for the gardener.  But in a way, He is the gardener.  Man was born in a garden and died in a garden, but the New Man, the Second Adam died in a garden but was reborn in the same garden.  And He is the firstfruits of this garden, God’s garden, which is His people whom He has planted and cared for.

And so today on Easter Even, we experience both Good Friday and Easter, for in this life you can’t have one without the other.  In this life, we still see both at work.  But in the twinkling of an eye, one day, it will all be Easter for all eternity.

On Easter Even, Satan was still whooping it up with a bunch of the boys in the Pandemonium Saloon.  He, too, had plans to go back to business as usual after the revelry: seduction, deception, warfare, lust, envy, pride, and the like.  He, too, had not yet remembered the Scripture that the Christ must rise again from the dead.

But on Easter Morning, Satan woke up, saying “I have a terrific headache!”  Only it wasn’t a hangover: his head was bleeding profusely, and his skull had been crushed by the Seed of the Woman as He walked out of the tomb!

Prayer:  Grant, O Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, so by continually mortifying our corrupt affections we may be buried with him; and that, through the grave, and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection; for his merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.   

Resolution and Point for Meditation:  This is the last day of Lent.  I resolve to reflect on how well I have used Lent to prepare for Easter.  If I have slept through Lent and not kept my Lenten vows as a means to draw me closer to God, I resolve to repent of this.  If I have not fully acknowledged and confessed my sins, I vow to do that today.  If I have not examined my life before the Lord, I vow to do that today.   Whatever I know in my life is keeping me from a fuller life in Christ, I resolve to nail it to the Cross today. 

© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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