The space around the body is black and void. The air is perfectly still and the dust has settled. It is a tomb; there is no need of fresh air or light. The tomb was newly carved into the rock and had no previous occupant. Away from the light and heat of the sun, away from the freshness of the wind, the tomb had a coolness to it which settled over the still body like a blanket.
There were men outside, standing near the large stone which served as a seal for the grave. These men were sent as guards over the dead man’s corpse which lay in silence within the cold rock enclosure. They had no idea what was to happen within the darkness of that little carved cave. They had no reason to expect anything would happen. The men who toured the nation with the tomb’s occupant were His students, meek zealots, and they had run for fear when the Pharisees made their move. The guards had little to fear from anyone connected to the dead man, from their perspective. They were paid to stand guard over a corpse.
Within the last moments of their duty, over the last moments of silence within the dark space they guarded, something happened which catalyzed a supernatural transformation of millions of lives across thousands of years. The guards could not see this imminent event, though they stood inches away from it. Within the stony grave, behind the sealed entrance to the body of Jesus, the Lord God declared His acceptance of the offering.
There are no recorded words to describe what happened in the tomb in that moment, but across the sea of time we feel the tremendous ramifications of what happened.
Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead.
Perhaps it began with a breath? The still air and settled dust may have moved ever so slightly around the cloth over His face. His fingers may have stretched as strength and life returned to them. The silence that had reigned over that space suddenly seemed deafening because there were ears now listening. The suffocating blackness suddenly seemed to hold some trace of light because eyes had opened in the darkness.
The glory of the Lord Jesus in that moment is a secret known only to the triune God. We feel it now, though. Our hearts ache with thanksgiving for that moment. A moment we Christians love more dearly than our own lives.
Rising from the stone slab He had been lain on, the linen cloth which had been covering His face might have softly fell onto His lap. Or perhaps it fell onto the cold ground beneath His feet. He retrieved it and took a moment of time to fold it. We know He folded it. One of the first actions of the resurrected Lord was to fold a linen cloth and though we don’t know if it fell to the ground or His lap, or if He had lifted it from His face, somehow we can give thanks for that cloth.
The first proof of His resurrection is cloth He touched and handled with intention. He does all things with intention.
Did He smile when He rose to His feet? Did He look toward the stone which sealed the tomb and call for the angel who rolled it back? There is no description given to us of those things; we have nothing but speculation and overactive imaginations to occupy our desire to know. But we know an angel rolled away the stone. We know the terror those guards felt because we’re told they were scared to death and fell unconscious at the sight of the moving stone and the angel who moved it. We are even given a description of that angel: “His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.” Such potent detail for an event that pales in comparison to the eternal glory of what had happened on the other side of that stone by the Master of all angels.
The Messiah did not require anyone to release Him from His tomb; we are shown in the scripture the Lord could enter and exit locked rooms effortlessly. He revealed this to His disciples and He broke bread with them. There are so many details we know and cherish regarding our Lord’s resurrection, but He holds those first few moments of His triumph. To us it is a hidden treasure and though we will never glimpse that treasure within this life, while we serve Him on this sin filled Earth, we clutch that treasure with a grip that cannot be broken.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, rose from the dead. He now sits at the right hand of the Father, ruling and reigning over all of reality in glory and perfection. Though we don’t know those secret moments when He rose, it is because He rose, because He stood to His feet and left the bondage and boundaries of death behind forever, we can look forward to finding our own secret moment with our God when He will raise us, too.
My resurrection on the day of the Lord will be like His. No one else will know those precious first moments except for my heavenly Father, my Saviour, and the Holy Spirit who preserves my sanctification. But all of creation will know that Jesus Christ saved me because I will be with Him in glory.
I’ll treasure my own secret moments of the resurrection just as I treasure His.