Go with me back in time. It is 6:17 in the morning, April 6th, the 17th year of Tiberius Caesar. It is a few moments before sunrise. We are in a dark place, somewhere in Judea, a troubled province of the Roman Empire. There is a sudden movement of the earth beneath our feet. We brace ourselves in the darkness. It is an earthquake!
Unable to see anything in the darkness, suddenly we hear the low, grinding sound of a heavy stone door being rolled away. Bright light intermittently enters the dark chamber where we find ourselves. The stone comes to rest and the first glimmers of dawn reveal that we are inside a large tomb. In front of us is a body wrapped in the familiar linen shroud of a Hebrew burial. The shroud suddenly begins to heave. We are startled. We shudder. Outside we can see the stone that once had sealed the tomb is now rolled away. An angel clothed in light is sitting on the stone. God has commanded his angels to raise up his Son by moving the stone out of his way, just as Psalm 91:11 had promised.
- Now we understand why the temptation of the Savior by Satan was so severe. The devil had urged Jesus to leap from the pinnacle of the temple, assuring him that God would send his angels to raise him up lest he dash his foot in death against the stone. But the enemy was misapplying the promise of the psalmist. God had after all just now sent his angels to raise up Jesus lest that stone — the sealing stone — dash the Savior’s foot in death.
We look back into the tomb and more light is streaming in from the dawn. The sun has just now crested over Mt Olives. Dawn’s light scatters all lingering darkness in the tomb.
Jesus is now standing, clothed in light, by the place where he had been laid. His graveclothes are lying where he left them there, undisturbed.
- As all of us awaken after surgery to inspect the scars left by the surgeon, so Jesus looks at his hands and his feet. He remembers Psalm 22:16 and the prophecy of these piercings. He gives thanks to his Father, just as Psalm 16:10 taught him, for his Father has healed him on the third day. God has not allowed his Son to know the corruption of death.
- Jesus looks around the large chambers of the tomb carved out of rock. The tomb clearly belongs to a wealthy family. The Savior remembers the promise of Isaiah 53:9 that although he was to be numbered with criminals in his suffering, he would be buried with the rich in his death. After his suffering, Jesus knew he would never again be touched by wicked hands. He knew he had been laid in this chamber of so rich a tomb by loving hands.
Jesus examines more closely the scars of his hands and his feet. He remembers the nails. But then he notices the scar in his side. He traces his finger over the place that was wounded but is now healed. Jesus has no memory of this deep wound. It occurred after he slept the sleep of death. But his finger lingers over this scar.
Jesus knows the meaning of the scar. The Savior is a new Adam. Just as Adam came forth from the earth in the beginning, so now this new Adam must complete all things. Like Adam, he too will come forth from the earth when he leaves the tomb. The fragrances of the spring season now fill the tomb. Jesus looks out of the tomb to see the beauty of a garden. Once more he traces the scar in his side.
- His finger lingers on this scar, for he remembers its promise. God had wounded Adam in a garden, too. It was when the Lord announced that it was not good for a man to be alone. Jesus remembers how God gave Adam the gift of a bride. God took the first man and brought upon him a deep sleep, a sleep like death. Although Adam was still innocent, God pierced his side and made a bloody wound. Out of that piercing, God gave life to the bride. He healed Adam of his wound and awakened him in a garden to receive his bride in all her purity and beauty.
Jesus’ finger traces the scar as his heart begins to swell with overwhelming joy. Who will she be? Who is the one who awaits his appearing outside, in the garden? Who is the one his Father has chosen to represent the bridal people he has redeemed from all the earth? He looks outside the tomb. The dawn is now bright and the sun shines radiantly upon an entirely new world. Jesus is eager to go forth, like a bridegroom rejoicing to see his bride — the one his father has chosen. The one chosen just for him. The one who will stir every passion of his holy heart.
- Jesus remembers the Song that Solomon had sung. “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride. You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes!” (Song 4:9). His heart is bursting with joy and expectation. He remembers what Isaiah said. “As the bridegroom sings over his bride, so the Lord God sings over his people!” (Isaiah 62:5) He is thinking of his bridal people. His inner heart is singing. He is thinking of you
Jesus sees the now bright light of dawn streaming into the tomb. Before he goes forth, he takes one last look at the place where they had laid him.
He sees the graveclothes. And the headpiece. All undisturbed. Suddenly, from somewhere nearby the garden, a rooster shakes off the nighttime dew, throws back his neck and crows in the new day. Jesus hears the cockcrow. So he remembers Peter. He remembers his beloved disciple, and he knows the deep sorrow that cockcrow will bring to his friend.
- Jesus knows all things. He knows that Peter will come to the tomb later this morning. He knows Satan has sifted his friend. Like wheat. He knows that Peter has no strength left in him. So he reaches out his hand, tentatively at first, and takes up the facecloth. He folds it in that certain way he always folded a cloth. That unique way that only he folded a cloth napkin. Peter had seen Jesus fold a cloth the same way so many times before. Jesus folded the facecloth, thinking about Peter. He prays for strength for his friend so broken in his sorrow. He knows that Peter has repented. He knows that Peter loves him. He knows that Peter will see the folded facecloth later that morning. He will see and believe. He smiles as he gently lays the facecloth by itself, nearby his shroud. It is a tender sign of an undying and all forgiving love. Left behind for his friend. A token of the love between God and Man.
Jesus turns to face the door of the tomb. The open door beckons him to go forth into a new world. He goes forth to redeem all that was lost by Adam. He goes forth, having conquered death and sin! This very moment he will conquer the grave!
- Later that morning, Jesus is standing near the tomb; he is unseen, watching. Then Jesus sees her. He sees her there in front of the tomb — it is Mary Magdalene. She is weeping. Alone before the tomb. He comes up behind her. Just as we love to surprise our family and friends when they are not expecting to see us after a long journey, so Jesus comes up behind Mary, who is sobbing in her grief. What will he call her? He knows his Father has chosen her to represent his bridal people. So he uses the name Adam first used to name his bride. He speaks. “Woman, why are you weeping?”
- Mary is looking into the tomb and weeping when she hears the voice behind her. She mistakes him for the gardener. But in truth, she makes no mistake. This Gardener has restored the garden to us all. He is the new and greater Adam. He has taken away the sin and death brought by the first Adam. Now he is about to restore the fellowship of God and mankind in the garden — all that was lost in the beginning. So he calls her a second time, “Mary!” At his voice, as he calls her by name, she recognizes Jesus. Her tears are suddenly wiped away. Her sorrow is gone. Joy floods her soul, a joy that can never be taken away. It is just as John promises to all of us in the new world to come, on that day God himself will wipe away all our tears (Revelation 21:4).
All things new
Jesus will spend his great Day, the greatest day in the history of the world, not in displaying his triumph over his enemies, but finding company with his friends. He will not present himself to Caiaphas and Herod. He will not parade before Pilate and the Sanhedrin. He will spend the morning consoling Mary Magdalene, showing how he has redeemed the woman and restored the fellowship of man with God in the garden. He will spend the afternoon encouraging two broken hearted disciples from Emmaus, walking alongside them. In the cool of the day. And he will meet the eleven disciples later that night, to encourage them even as a new day begins. His light, they will learn, will soon scatter away the shadows of every darkness.
It is a new day. It is a new beginning. Solomon had said there is nothing new under the heavens. But today, this day, Jesus has made all things new.
Dr. Warren A. Gage, Th.M., J.D., Ph.D. is president of The Alexandrian Form, which provides life-changing Biblical teaching. © 2021 The Alexandrian Forum Read more articles by Dr. Warren A. Gage at goodnewsfl.org/author/dr-warren-gage/