(The earth cracked open)





The earth shook





It was as if the whole earth shuddered the moment Jesus died.

Mountains trembled.

Rocks split open.


And at that moment, the curtain that hung in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

That curtain was used to separate the people from the Holy of Holies, the sacred place in the temple where only the priests could enter. Only they could come before God and speak for the people.

Now that curtain had been torn apart. It was as though God were saying there is no longer anything that separates God from his people.



The earth shook



Meanwhile, complete darkness continued to cover the earth. The light of the world had gone out.

The soldiers who were standing by the cross fell to the ground. The earth rumbled all around them - and they were terrified!

And as the ground shook beneath them, one of the soldiers cried out, “This truly was the Son of God!”






The earth shook



And then, a mighty and strange thing began to happen. Graves broke open in the countryside all around, and people who had died believing in God were seen walking in the city by many astonished and frightened people.


Near the cross too were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the wife of Zebedee. They stood off in the distance, their hearts were breaking too.





break



When evening had come, and the whole world lay still, a man named Joseph came to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And so Pilate ordered his soldiers to take the lifeless body down from the cross.

There was a garden nearby, and in it there was a new tomb where no one had ever been buried. It was carved out of solid rock. Joseph wrapped the body of Jesus in a new linen sheet and placed it in the tomb because the Sabbath was near, and the tomb was close at hand.

Then he rolled a large stone across the front of the tomb and sealed it shut.






break



Now, the chief priests and the Pharisees were frightened too.

But they had other reasons. That night, they met together secretly. “What are we going to do?! What if the disciples of Jesus try to steal the body? Then they will tell the people that he has risen from the dead! That cannot happen!”

And so the next day, it was the Sabbath, the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “this Jesus told the people, ‘In three days, I will rise again!’ We are afraid his disciples might steal his body and try to trick the people.”

So Pilate ordered a group of his strongest soldiers to go to the tomb. They put a seal on the stone that covered the entrance. That way, if the seal was broken, they would know someone had broken in.

And then, just to make sure the tomb could not be broken into, Pilate ordered his men to keep guard through the night.







The First Easter Morning





(page break)


Paul Dallgas-Frey
4/19/03


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