by Josh Huber
In Matthew, that first Sunday after Jesus was crucified, the Marys don’t seem to have a plan. They weren’t coming with spices to anoint the body. They weren’t worried about who would roll away the huge stone covering the tomb’s mouth. They were just going to see the tomb.
Maybe they were half-thinking in the wild illogic of grief that if they just went, if they just came to Jesus as he was, they could turn back the clock. They might get another try. They might set things straight.
I’ve felt like that before when something’s gone wrong–even something petty.
For example, the other day I was riding a bike when my front tire clipped a puddle of mysterious liquid. A sizable cool splash of some dark, unidentified substance sprayed up and over my ankle staining my pants. And I remember thinking, distinctly thinking: no that wasn’t right. Let me go back and do that again. I’ll ride by the same spot but miss the puddle this time, and everything will be ok again.
Of course, that thought was out of step with reality: contrary to the very basic nature of how we move through time and space. Of course. I knew that.
But that didn’t stop me from thinking about it. It didn’t stop me from wishing for what could have been: pants still clean, that puddle in the park undisturbed and completely unnoticed.
My brain did that for a puddle and a pair of pants.
So, imagine the Mary’s– who have just experienced the loss of the person they loved most in all the world.
Imagine the Mary’s–who only a week before were living the first Palm Sunday replete with triumph and Hosannas and unfettered expectations.
Imagine the Mary’s–who watched Jesus be crucified, heard him cry out Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?, felt him die.
Imagine the Mary’s–stumbling out at first light to make their way to the tomb–just to see it. Because maybe…
Of course they knew it wasn’t logical. They knew that one life minus one life always and everywhere means no life, means there is nothing you can do, and there is no going back.
But when the Mary’s arrived at the tomb knowing that they would yet find 1-1 always equals 0 (Jesus – Jesus still equals no Jesus), they are greeted with a sudden earthquake as an angel drops like lightning from heaven and rolls out the gravestone for a stool to sit on. And that angel tells them: Jesus is back. Back from the dead. Back with you.
Then, hurrying from that former tomb in fear and joy, they almost ran right into Jesus.
Jesus alive again, impossibly present with them again, speaking to them one word, “Greetings!”
“Greetings!” And 1-1 suddenly equaled infinity. One word, and the entirety of our faith sprung forth.
The Marys went to see Jesus’ tomb, just to be present to his death and absence, just because maybe…
And so they became the first Christians marked by the unutterable mystery of resurrection: the mystery of Jesus’ presence, of God yet with us, Emmanuel, to death and beyond.