They have stolen the body. Someone has moved it, how dare they? Don’t they know who this is? Can’t they let us come to terms with our loss, with the fact that the one that we have has gone.
The tears of grief turn to tears of anguish. Mary runs back to find the disciples, the little one heeds her call and is out the door. Peter not wanting to be left behind sets off in pursuit. They come to the tomb and Mary is right, Jesus is not there.
The pain soon turns to anger, and the anger to frustration and confusion. And just there at the end of the confusion is the faintest glimmer of hope. The scene before them doesn’t make sense, the grave clothes haven’t been ripped off by a thief, they have been walked out of.
Mary is left outside weeping at this latest desecration. She cries out. And the angels comfort her.
The gardener tries to talk to her but she is beyond herself. And then he calls her name.
Suddenly the darkness has turned to light. The night has gone and the day has come. Death has given way to life. In the morning as the tears pour down her cheeks Mary sees Jesus before her: the same only somehow different. As he spoke her name, her heart stirred out of love for the one she knew so well, as he urged her not to cling to his body, she comprehended the distance that was now between them. He was there, but he was not.
We could argue for centuries, and the theologians probably have, whether the death or the resurrection of Jesus is the more important event. And maybe it’s a pointless conversation, without death there would be no need for resurrection, but without resurrection death would be the end.
For me the joy that cometh in the morning wins. We are dead and we all need resurrection. It is the hope that Jesus, walking out of his grave clothes, brings that defines what life this side of the cross must look like. We do not have to follow Jesus onto the cross, but we do have to follow him out of the grave.
As Tom Wright notes, the resurrection is on the first day of the new week, it is the dawn of a new creation. It is the same in so many ways, but it is also so very different.
The disciples were hiding out in Jerusalem, knowing that their lives were at stake, they had publicly followed this crucified man who was killed as a king trying to lead a revolution. They locked the doors but Jesus found a way in.
The king is dead, long live the king.