NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 31 March) — On Sunday, April 1, the Christian world celebrates Easter with great jubilation because of the fulfilled prophecy – that Christ, the Saviour rose from the dead. The resurrection assures believers the certainty of an everlasting life.
Yet Easter has a historic dark side.
We may recall that Jesus died with a heavy heart. He was denied and abandoned by his disciples during his humiliation in the mock public trial and when he was maltreated on the way to Calvary. While he was hanging and tortured on the cross, only his brother John was around to keep company and attend to their grieving mother. The rest kept a distance most likely for security reason. Jesus’ sorrow might have also grown heavy on the knowledge that the disciple who mustered enough courage and accepted the immeasurable shame of betraying him, if only to fulfil the scripture, was unable to manage his remorse and hanged himself.
And what was most hurting was no one of his disciples and avid followers believed that he would rise from the grave. No one expected a risen Christ. The morning of the third day from his death on the cross was more likely very painful to the Teacher more than the pain of the wounds he incurred in the crucifixion: No one was there to welcome him alive.
The first Easter, thus, was a historic disappointment.
Indeed, the first Sunday after the death of Jesus showed that, despite what he had done and intimately shared to his disciples, the specially chosen clique failed to develop strong faith in him. They apparently did not believe or remember what he said to them about the destroyed temple that would rise again after three days.
Again, no one among them believed that he would rise from the dead on the third day of his entombment. This explains why as the appointed day was approaching, they did not bother at all to get together to wait for him and welcome him near his grave. The disciples were probably ensconced in some place, avoiding public exposure and the possibility of persecution.
And the women who very early in the morning went to his tomb bringing myrrh and spices were not there to greet a risen Christ but to embalm his body which they probably didn’t know was already done in a hurry by an admirer, Joseph of Arimathea, a few hours before the observance of the Sabbath.
Joseph of Arimathea, was the same guy, and not his cowardly disciples, who was bold enough to ask Pilate to entrust to him the body of Christ for burial in his own memorial lot, at the risk of being suspected and linked to whatever crime allegedly committed by the crucified King of the Jews.
The disciples when informed by the women that Jesus’ tomb was empty and that he has risen and had seen him were unbelieving until he appeared physically to the 10 of them. The other disciple, Thomas, who was not with the group, when told of the appearance of Christ was more unbelieving than the rest. He doubted the information and declared that he would only believe that the master had resurrected if could touch the wounds in body.
It was painfully sad. Nobody expected a living Christ on Easter.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)