We helped bury so many friends during our eleven years in Central Asia. Reliable statistics are hard to come by in that corrupt environment, but it sure seemed like people died a lot younger there. And they didn’t attempt to gild death. We buried people quickly, usually on the same day, because the body, washed and dressed at home by family members, would begin to stink.
The body could be viewed laid out in a simple pine box before the funeral began. A family member would nail the coffin closed at the cemetery. The coffin was lowered with ropes into a deep hole in the red, sandy soil. All the mourners would file by and throw a clod of dirt on top of the coffin. In the end, the closest male members of the family would pick up shovels and finish filling up the grave.
Death was all very real and un-retouched.
That was how it was when Jesus died. Real. Irrevocable. Devastating. Or so they thought.
But imagine the disciples’ utter shock when they found the tomb empty and then saw the risen Christ with their own eyes! A stunning moment! “Death was swallowed up in victory.” Because Jesus died, just like the rest of us! Just like all of our friends in Central Asia died. And dead is dead. But then he did something unheard of: He conquered death. He was not only resurrected, he remains resurrected. He lives now at the right hand of the Father, interceding…for us!
That is Good News! As they say in Russian on Easter Sunday: Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Happy Resurrection Day!