The Dawn of a New Day

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala went to the tomb
and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon
Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!’” (John 20:1)

Like good Jews everywhere, the disciples of the Lord had been resting. It was the Sabbath, and that didn’t change. But their hearts were not at rest. Churning inside with frustration, confusion, hope that had been dashed to the ground, they agonized over the death of the Master. But Mary Magdalene’s soul could not be contained. She yearned to go to the tomb—to do what? Just to be there where the two good men had taken Him, providing our Lord a burial that none of them, including Jesus Himself, could ever afford.

With the dawn of a new day one senses the energy bursting within her. Striding to the place of entombment to mourn, she is startled to find that it wasn’t as it had been when a huge stone had sealed the grave. The stone was rolled back. Turning, she actually ran to where St. Peter and the others were resting. He and John decided to find out what had happened. Was Magdalene right, or was it some delusion by a woman overcome by her grief?

“Come and see,” were the first words of Jesus several years before, when they were curious as to who He was. After the events of the past few days when all their hopes were dashed to earth and their confidence shattered, they were again rushing out to learn more about the mysterious Master. Surely the irony wasn’t missed as they hurried along the way to His grave. What had ended was not an end, but a new beginning. They knew He was dead—but what did they know? Hadn’t He told them: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life?” (John 14:6)

Peter and John were good Jews, and as such had a special understanding of what “The Way” meant. Didn’t God tell Moses not to turn right or left, but always to walk in the ways of the Lord as He commanded him? (Deuteronomy 5:32). They knew the Psalms by heart: “Lord, teach me Your way” (Psalm 27:11). Even the phrase “I am” has a special meaning, since it was the Name that God revealed to Moses when he asked the Lord who He is. Jesus didn’t tell the apostles that He would show them the way: Instead, He said “I am the Way.” Christ’s death didn’t change that. They learned not just to follow Him to His death, then find their own ways. Life was a journey behind the Lord through death and into the Kingdom of Heaven.

That truth trumps all rational truths we learn along the way through the world. When just on the Friday before the crucifixion when Pilate uttered the cynical sad phrase, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), he had his own answer. To Pilate there was no truth or, rather, “truth was anything you want it to be.” Jesus stood in silence, realizing that to such a man no reply could touch his mind or heart. Jesus need not explain truth in words; He is Truth personified.

Finally, as Mary Magdalene perceived and as Peter and John confirmed, He is Life. No grave could hold Him, for He is the Source of all that lives. The three had been motivated by love to set out for the tomb, by hope that somehow He would perform a miracle transcending that of raising Lazarus from the grave, and by faith that He lives. And their faith was vindicated again and again by many others who witnessed Him alive in the days following.