Weeks ago, I thought I had the perfect hymn picked out for Easter—“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” I love this song’s moving melody and easy harmony. A recent reading of Mark 14-15 tells me the lyrics give an accurate account of the Crucifixion: the physical pain—“wounds which mar the Chosen One”; the humiliation—“I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers”; and, perhaps most devastating, the sense of desertion—“The Father turns His face away.”
But Chapter 16 of Mark, tells of the Resurrection. And this past week I’ve seen the stirring words of S. M. Lockridge shared several times on Facebook posts: “It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming.” I am reminded that Easter is a two-part story.
In Chapter 16, Mark describes the women who come to the tomb early on Sunday morning to anoint Jesus’s body with spices. They discover the stone covering the tomb entrance has been rolled away. Inside, a young man dressed in a white robe delivers astounding news: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead!”
In Mark’s Gospel, he reports only that the women ran away, confused and frightened. But Matthew informs us the women were “very frightened but filled with great joy.” (Matthew 28:8) I like Matthew's version better. I don’t think I can come close to imagining what these women felt. Along with Jesus's other followers, they had just experienced two horrendous days. On the first day, they had watched as their beloved teacher and leader had been brutally tortured and crucified. In the silence of the second day, they had endured paralyzing doubt and fear, wondering if Jesus's claims would prove true or if they'd bought into the scam of the centuries.
Then on the third day, they learned he had risen just as he said he would. What relief…what renewed hope…what indescribable joy!
And that’s why the Easter story needs two songs--a haunting one to tell of a horrible, hopeless Friday and a jubilant one to remind us Sunday came.