I’ve often wondered about the difference between the day before Christmas, and the day before Easter. Have you? I especially wonder about the day before that very first Christmas and the day before that very first Easter.
On that first Christmas eve, you remember, the angels sang. Shepherds showed up at the manger. They’d been out on the hillsides watching their sheep. And then they heard that song, sung by those angels. A very big deal, when angels show up to sing about it.
On that first Christmas Eve, that first-time mother named Mary held her son in her arms for the very first time, while the Eternal God watched it all from the portals of heaven. No question about it. The day before that first Christmas was filled with scenes and events unlike anything that had ever happened before. Jesus had come into the world, and it was as if the entire world was glad about it.
But the day before that very first Easter? On the Saturday before that Sunday? No one talks about that day much at all. To my knowledge, no song has ever written about it. Even the Bible is silent about what took place on that Saturday after Jesus died. A day filled with hopelessness, I think. Mary knew. She was absolutely certain her Son had died. She watched him die on Friday, and now, Saturday was filled with meaningless moments; moments numbed by the certainty of the cross and the sealed tomb. What do you do on the day after your son dies? What does your life look like the day after something terrible has happened? What do you say to those who seek to comfort you with words that can never bring you comfort?
Those Roman guards had rolled a big rock over the entrance to that tomb. And so that rock sat in stoney silence. Immovable and locked in place all of Friday night. When the sun came up on Saturday morning, the bolder was still there. And the memory, the empty feelings and hopeless sorrow not only of Mary but all the other followers of Jesus. The emotion of it all had to have been overwhelming. Never had there ever been a ‘day before’ like that day before the very first Easter.
No one could move that rock. Pilate said so. The guards who were guarding that tomb said so. Even the high priest said so. No one could move that rock. But God, the only God there is, had a final word. When the rest of the world was saying ‘No one can move the stone,” God was saying, ‘That’s what you think.” It’s just that it wasn’t time for The Word to get out yet. It’s the day before Easter. Not time to tell the ending.
Keep your eye on that rock, the one they said couldn’t be moved, no matter what. Whether you’re going through a valley, or you’re on a mountain top. Whether you are facing an uncertain future or you’ve just learned some dread news, and you’re worst nightmare seems to have been confirmed. Keep your eye on the rock. See that stone, rolled in stoney silence across the front of the tomb of Mary’s oldest boy. The rock was, indeed, heavy, but The Living Stone it tried to contain is immovable! Keep your eye on that rock they said no one could roll away.
And whatever you do, don’t forget what happened at first light on that first Easter Sunday morning.