When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” — Mark 16 1-7
I’d like to share with you a story from an earlier Easter, when Marcia and I had been married a little over a year. This is really Marcia’s story, and she tells it well at Patheos, where she has a weekly column that I headline here each Friday evening. When Marcia and I first got married, her health took a turn for the worse after several months, and by our first Christmas it was clear that she would need to get a kidney transplant sooner than either of us expected. Before I had a chance to complete my testing to be a donor, though, Marcia and I received a call that a cadaver donor has been found:
About 4 a.m. on April 16, 1995, our phone rang, waking us from a sound sleep. Since Ed was the manager of a 24/7 alarm call center at the time, this wasn’t unusual; he always needed to be available, so the phone would often ring in the middle of the night.
But this time was different. I heard Ed say, “Hi Marnya!” with surprise in his voice. She was the transplant coordinator at St. Joseph’s hospital in Orange County, California. My first thought was why was she calling at this hour? Then I woke up as though I had been doused with cold water; there was a transplant available, for me, and we needed to come up to the hospital to check in as soon as possible. I was instantly out of bed with nerves jangling. Ed packed some things while I took a very quick shower, and he called his dad to come to stay with our young son.
As we drove up to the hospital Ed said to me, “The sunrise is beautiful!” The sun was just coming up—it was sunrise on Easter Sunday morning! Tears sprang to my eyes as the significance of what Ed said struck me. It was as if the Lord was telling me not to be afraid, and that it was all going to be okay; He had everything in His hands, and it was Resurrection day!
Needless to say, that timing touched us deeply, and not a year goes by that we don’t think of the Resurrection in personal as well as general spiritual terms. Even though that kidney has long since stopped functioning, we have never stopped appreciating the gift of life that one family made from death in the midst of their sorrow and despair. Today, we celebrate our Lord who gave us an everlasting gift of eternal life through his own suffering and death, so that despair itself cannot prevail.
We wish all our readers a happy and blessed Easter Sunday.