The empty tomb must have looked stark to Mary Magdalene, Peter and the beloved disciple. Mary had come there presumably to grieve, for this was customary with the Jewish people, and we know from John’s account that Jesus’s body had already been anointed, for Nicodemus had brought a large amount of spices. Yet the emptiness of the tomb, the linen cloths and the stone rolled away told their own story. The tomb was open and invited exploration. Only the beloved disciple saw the significance of the linen cloths lying there. Jesus did not need these any more for he had entered into new life.
Mary had followed Jesus to the cross, had been with him in his suffering and had witnessed his death. She would be the first to see him but it was not till he called her by name that she realised her Lord had risen. In a time when we hear of dictators oppressing and using violence against their own people, of the pandemic which has caused so much death and misery and the effects of climate change on animal and plant life, it is difficult sometimes to see the risen Lord moving among us or to see where he is leading. Yet though the empty tomb looked bleak and desolate, in reality it spoke of the fulfilment of God’s promise through the ages and new life through his Son.
Like Mary Magdalene, we often fail to recognise him quietly at work, like the new shoots daily appearing in our Easter world.