On Friday afternoon I scrolled through my cousin’s photos of a Good Friday “hike” to commemorate the journey that Jesus took from judgement, to the cross, to the tomb. The photo journal was for me an unexpected treasure, personally and as someone who seeks to know and understand God.
First of all that hike took me home. I miss the West Coast and as the worshipers walked through the forest I recalled the damp coolness of the air under the trees, the musty dank aroma of the fecundity of the earth. I felt comforted and restored with the beauty of God’s creation.
As I reflected on this journal and what it meant for the remembrance of Good Friday, it seemed to me that the richness of the earth, the freshness of ferns and new growth at the base of the towering trees hinted at the promise of Easter. Such a different journey from that first one taken through the dirty streets of Jerusalem, then enduring the scorching sun on the top of a cross topped hill. Even though the hope is there, we are not aware of it….and we certainly are unaware of the hope as the stone is rolled across the opening in the rock. We are plunged into despair.
This tomb is not a dry life forsaken place in the hillside dessert. This tomb is covered in moss and teeming with life. That of course is the promise that we look forward to–the promise of life. Yet I think that the message here is much deeper, it is a message about finding God, when we look for him, in unexpected places.
One summer I took a course on the Midrash, looking at how the stories told about Scripture point us to the truth that God seeks to reveal. One of the stories told was about the day that Joseph was thrown into a cistern by his brothers, who subsequently sold him into slavery.
The midrash said that the cistern was empty and there was no life there, except a snake and a scorpion. The question of course, is, if there is no life there, can God be found there?
But then upon reflection if there was a snake and a scorpion there was life there. It may not be the kind of life with which we would like to share a space, but it is life. Where there is a snake and a scorpion, there is creation. And where there is creation, God is present. Where God is present there is hope. Where there is hope there is salvation. So it was for all of Joseph’s family as God’s purpose was fulfilled in Egypt.
So it is for us as God’s purpose was fulfilled in the empty tomb. There is no place that is so devoid of life that we cannot find God. The key is that we need to keep looking, and we need to be prepared to find God waiting for us in unexpected places.