Recently I got to give a ride to one of our college students, a freshman engineering major, and we shared our love for the precision and finality of math. You do the problem, finish the problem, check your answer and it is either correct or not. No ambiguity. We both liked those math problems with their defined answers and/but with any others that are seeking to let Jesus shape and define their lives, we get the mystery of Easter.
In the Christian tradition Easter is the definitive holy day. It starts with an empty tomb. There was not a tablet there with a note that gave details about what/where/why/when/how. There was an empty tomb where Jesus’ body should have been. He had been killed. Brutally. Violently. This man of God, of compassion, peacemaking, inclusion was too much for the people in power. Jesus threatened their way of life. They didn’t want to cede power. They didn’t want to share wealth. They flexed their muscles and nailed Jesus to a cross. That was how they kept order in their world. Jesus was executed and hastily put in a tomb.
But that isn’t the end of the story. God is not through. Love is not conquered. Love cannot and is not contained in a tomb. It all changes. Dramatically. And we are invited be shaped by that change. There are eight stories in the Bible about what that looks like. Each of them different. None of them a math book kind of description.
In the story from Matthew the earth quakes, the stone rolls away and an angel appears. That doesn’t happen in math books. It happens in life, though. That’s what God does and offers. When everything seems to be over, when death has taken hold, when all possibilities have been exhausted and despair is gripping deep — God offers new life, transformed life, resurrected life. Women came to dress a dead body and were enveloped in a new story.