After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. (Matt. 28:1, NRSV)
We live in an old normal world where we expect the worst to happen. Maybe we hope for the best, but if we’re really honest, we expect the worst. Like those two Marys, we go to the tomb expecting the normal world where large boulders stay put. We’ve seen it just in the past weeks: chemical weapons attacks on children, retaliatory missile strikes, people ripped from their airplane seats, CEO’s of large banks getting rich by preying on the poor, children shot in their school, this is our normal world. This is the world of Herod, Pilate, and Caesar.
As fast as a crack of lightning, we, alongside those two Marys, are drawn out of our morose normalcy by a sight better than any Hollywood CGI studio could concoct. A life rocking earthquake, “lightning before dawn, snow in the Middle East (v. 3), a huge stone rolled away, and Caesar’s finest shaking in their boots— we are not simply on the edge of dawn, we stand upon the precipice of a strange and wonderful, although confusing and badly shaken, new world.” (Will Willimon, Feasting on the Gospels: Matthew vol. 2) We stand wholly in a world with a new normal.
But what about that whole rock being removed. Why was that stone rolled away? If the resurrection already happened and Jesus wasn’t in that empty tomb, what possible reason could there have been for that angel to get in a workout and relax on top of the boulder? The stone wasn’t rolled away to let Jesus out, but to let us in. We are called into the cave because we often put God in a box. We tend to hold up a mirror to our desires and claim that this is exactly what God wants. God wants to be comfortable. God wants predictability. God wants to feel safe. We roll a stone over the cave of our life, sealing God safely away.
So the angel calls not only to each of those women to “come and see,” but to each one of us. Come and see inside this darkness. Come and see what God did. Come and see that hope lives. Come and see that peace has a chance. Come and see that death was defeated. Come and see that hate is overpowered. Come and see that love wins. Come and see that God has the last word. We go into that cave to see God has let Jesus out on the loose.
He is still risen. He is risen indeed.