Ah, Easter: that glorious day marked by egg hunting, honey ham, and zombies.
It’s actually one of my very favorite parts of the Easter story, and for the life of me, I have ZERO idea why it so often gets overlooked in church. But it’s right there in the middle of Scripture:
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
(Matthew 27:50-54, emphasis added)
Maybe we just get so caught up in the earthquake and the veil and the centurion—all noteworthy elements, to be sure—that we gloss over the fact that people actually got up out of their graves.
Can you even imagine going to lay fresh flowers by your sister’s tombstone and she meets you at the cemetery gate? Or catching up with a great-great grandparent who died at your age over coffee? Easter split the logic of death wide open. “All that’s certain is death and taxes.” Welp, at least we can still count on taxes.
I feel like Lazarus would have been the only one who could relate here, but that’s just me.
Yes, that cross was smeared with bloody suffering. Agony. Abandonment. Public scorn. The weight of all sin for all humanity for all time. More gore than this highly sensitive girl can handle even thinking about. But, oh, the life it sparked! For you and for me, sure, but even for those who saw it with their own bleary eyes. Tomb Raider indeed.
I love that the zombies in this passage (those awestruck souls who actually came un-dead) had no control over their situation. It’s not like they just wanted to come back to life so much that it finally happened. The power of God vibrated breath back into those lungs all on His own. They didn’t choose it. They couldn’t help it. Christ’s death. Collateral life.
And so it remains.
Beauty and light and breath and hope are born in the dark of that Best Friday.
As we race toward Easter like those sweaty disciples trying to beat one another to the deficient tomb, may we keep our eyes open for life in unexpected places: evidence that the power of God has not stopped humiliating death.