Luke 24: 1 - 12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
The Romans killed Jesus and His disciples took Jesus’ body down from the cross and put it in a burial cave. And that was that. Jesus' physical body was deader than a doornail.
It is Jesus’ female disciples who go the first day of the week, which in that culture would have been on Sunday after Jesus died and was buried on Friday, to anoint the body with spices but when they arrive and look for the body it is not there. Where did the body go seems to be the question of the moment.
According to Luke’s telling some angelic phantoms appear and tell them that Jesus prophesied his own “rise again” which we interrupt as his bodily resurrection since there is no body there. When the female disciples go and tell the male disciples the males don’t believe them. Peter has to go and check himself and when he doesn’t find the body the story tells us Peter went home amazed.
At this point in the story, what happened to the body is the mystery. Cultural Christians get caught up in explaining the mystery of what happened to the body and this focus misses the point of Jesus’ teaching, arrest, execution, and the physical body disappearing.
Losing track of the physical body of Jesus has little or nothing to do with anything. What is significant is how Jesus died. And the story of the so-called passion, the crucifixion scenario, was that Jesus forgave His executioners. Jesus spiritually and psychologically rose above His attack and torture. It was in His forgiving of his executioners, and those who conspired to have them engage in this activity, that Jesus demonstrates the power of rising above the illusory actions on the path of the ego and focus on what’s really important which is the path of the Spirit which is unconditional love.
What happened to the body is beside the point. What is of real significance is what happened to Jesus’ spirit. Jesus rises above the injustice, the pain, the suffering, the physical dying itself, and forgives. Would that we all could be such big persons. Would that we could follow Jesus' example and rise above and forgive those who attack us, are unfair to us, abuse us. Jesus is demonstrating, in the way He died, that He is not a victim, that He had the power to choose how He would respond to the abuse He was subject to, and He chose to forgive rather than hate or freeze in fear.
Today is the last day of Lent. Lent has been about renouncing the path of the ego so that we can embark on and walk the path of the Spirit. This effort, this intention, the practices we have engaged in do not end here, but have only just begun. Lent has been the pre-season practice and warm up, and now we are ready to begin the season and play the game of life at a whole new level. Hopefully, we can move from the minor leagues to the majors, and we can succeed with Jesus as our coach.