CHRIST our Passover is sacrificed for us: * therefore let us keep the feast, Not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; * but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Cor. v. 7.
CHRIST being raised from the dead dieth no more; * death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: * but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, * but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. vi. 9.
CHRIST is risen from the dead, * and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, * by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, * even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Cor. xv. 20
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.
ALMIGHTY God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
Colossians iii. 1. St. John xx. 1.
He saw and believed
It is the morning of the first day of the week. It is the day after the Sabbath. It is the day the Romans called the Day of the Sun. It is the day that Jesus rose from the dead and changed the world forever.
Our appointed Gospel says that Mary Magdalene was the first to see the empty tomb. She had gone there before dawn to anoint the body with fragrant spices. On Good Friday, the Sabbath Preparation Day, she and others had prepared the body for burial in the customary way with materials brought by Nicodemus. They washed the body and wrapped it in clean linen strips saturated with a glue-like mixture of aloes and myrrh – in the case of Jesus "100 pounds". This mixture adheres to the body making the removal of grave clothes difficult. It forms a cocoon about the body up to the head. The head was not covered, but a linen napkin was placed over it.
Mary looked into the tomb to see that Jesus is gone, and rushes back to the disciples. John and Peter run to the tomb. John arrives first and looks in. Peter enters the tomb and sees, then John and "he saw and believed." The grave linens were lying there and the napkin lying separate. The grave linens, remember, were like a cocoon with 100 pounds of the gummy spices that had saturated the linens.
There are slightly different accounts of the preparation, burial, and discovery of the grave linens. Since John himself entered the tomb and witnessed the empty tomb, his is a first-hand account. Put yourself in the place of John. You enter the tomb hesitantly after the impetuous Peter. There, on the stone slab, is the grave-linens, lying like a cocoon. The napkin that is placed over the face is there too, lying exactly where the head should be. But there is no head, the cocoon is empty. Not unwrapped, not torn asunder, not disturbed, just empty.
The next time you are out and notice the cocoon of a butterfly think of the empty tomb. Think of the miracle of metamorhpis where the lowly catapillar enters the cocoon and emerges a completely new being, think of our Lord Jesus the Risen Christ, on that Sunday morning long ago.
The Epistle. Colossians iii. 1.
IF ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
The Gospel. St. John xx. 1.
THE first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
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