Beyond the Sepulcher

That man walked out of the tomb pushing the stone effortlessly. People who crucified him and buried him in the sepulcher thought that was the end of him. They beat him, spat at him, whipped him and tortured him and crucified him amongst thieves and assumed that he could never come out of the tomb. But he rose on the third day from his death. Jesus knew that his life here on earth, sufferings and crucifixion was predestined by God, (Mathew 14:16) he maintained a principled distance from the world and its affairs. This gave him the courage to go through crucifixion burial and resurrection. Luke 22:41 talks about how Jesus maintained a stone throws distance from his environment. As we commemorate his resurrection let us take a look at what this principled distance means for us.

The first distance was from food. Even though Jesus was in the form of a human he could keep himself away from one of the basic needs of mankind. He did not care for the earthly food that could be digested or evaporated. He started his public ministry spending 40 days without food and water in the desert. He had the mental strength to overcome thirst and hunger pangs because he knew that man does not live on bread alone (Luke 4:4). He gave importance to the bread from heaven which promises eternal life (John 6:27). He satisfied his hunger with food which no one knew of (John 4:32). He answered the cries of the hungry! He satisfied the hunger of the gathering with bread and fish without even tasting it (Mathew 14:16, Mark 5:43). Even on the day of Last Supper he was eager to feed the disciples rather than himself (Mathew 26:27, John 21:12-13). In the end he spent hours without water and food, he was crucified on a wooden cross. Yes, he had no longing for food!

The second was distance from Shelter. Shelter is one of the basic human needs and Jesus could keep a distance from the need of a shelter. He was born in a manger as his parents could not find a place at the Inn. They had to flee even the manger one night and live as a refugee in a foreign land. He lived in a small house until he was 12 years old with his parents. With the self-realization that his life was not to be spend within the small circle, he left home and lived somewhere until he was thirty. His public ministry consisted of him wandering in and out of home town and he found food and rest at wayside and deserted places. He invited his disciples to focus on the eternal home in heaven rather than the temporary shelter on earth. His only desire was to be close to the home of his Father (Luke 2:46, John 2:17). So like food, shelter was not his priority. At the end he was hung on a cross with no place to rest his head on earth. He even entrusted his mother to his beloved disciple before he gave up his life on the cross (John 19:27). He was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a stranger (Mathew 27:59).

We see in the person of Judas how a person who loved money ended his life hanging on a rope. (Mathew 27:5) And Jesus who maintained a distance from the world passed through a tomb is an epitome of faith for every Christian. As his follower we must maintain a principled distance from this world. He could have wanted anything he wanted but he maintained a respectable distance from everything. It does not mean that we should distance ourselves from the basic necessities of life like food, clothing and shelter but like Jesus we are called to maintain a distance and detachment from the temporary pleasures like wealth (Mark 6:8, Mathew 6:19), honor (Mathew 4:6, Luke 10:20), authority (Mathew 20: 27-28), acceptance (John 6:15). What we must remember is not that we don’t need these things on earth but to remember that we can’t take anything with us when we leave this world. So let us not be greedy for the things that will not last and will only bound us deeper to the earth. Let your life be a little light and let heaven be your destination. The life and death of Jesus challenges us in our worldly life. Let us walk closer to him and this closeness to Jesus will give us the strength to overcome the desires of the world and one day like him we will be able to go beyond the sepulcher.

Fr. Thomas Pattathilchira CMF