Which Gospel account of the events of Easter morning is your favourite?
If you’re not sure, then here are some snapshots to get you thinking.
(photo from the Garden Tomb, Jerusalem)
Matthew introduces a note of drama with a violent earthquake heralding the descent from heaven of an angel.
Mark leaves us hanging – the women, “besides themselves with terror”, “said nothing to anybody, for they were afraid” – and yet we know that’s not the end of the story.
In Luke’s Gospel, this is confirmed, in that here we read of the women, though “terrified”, reporting all of the angels’ message “to the Eleven and all the others”.
John is the only one to mention the male disciples being among the very early morning witnesses: namely Simon Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved. He goes on to give a detailed description of the abandoned grave clothes: the linen wrappings were lying on the ground and “the napkin which had been over Jesus’ head, not lying with the wrappings but rolled together in a place by itself”.
It is also John who gives us the description of that intimate encounter between Mary of Magdala and the person she assumes to be the gardener, and her emotional exclamation “Rabbuni” in response to hearing her Lord speak her name.
Perhaps it is Mark’s account which resonates most closely with our own situation today, in terms of the pandemic. We too are hanging on, not sure what will happen next, unable to plan as we would usually do, fearful perhaps of a third wave of the virus.
We know, however, that sooner or later the women did tell their story. So let’s take a leaf out of their book, putting our fears to one side and all our trust in God. As the Book of Lamentations puts it:
“The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue. Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so I put my hope in him. The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him. So it is best for us to wait in patience – to wait for him to save us … (cross outside Durham Cathedral)
The Lord is merciful and will not reject us for ever.
He may bring us sorrow,
but his love for us is sure and strong.”
(chapter 3, from verses 22-33)