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Summary: The disciples were confronted with what to do with an empty. Seeing the power of the resurrection in their lives gives us cause for great expectations.

John 20:1-8 “Great Expectations”


What do you do with an empty tomb? John is very brief in his description of the events of Easter morning. Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it empty. She ran to Peter and the beloved disciple to tell them that someone had stolen Jesus’ body. The two disciples run to the tomb and confirm that it is empty, but they don’t know what to make of it.

It wasn’t until later in the day, when Jesus had appeared to Mary and the disciples that they realized that Jesus indeed had been raised from the dead.

Though two millennia have come and gone, and we know that Jesus has risen from the dead, the same question faces us as faced the disciples. What do we do with an empty tomb? What difference does it make in our lives today?


The empty tomb signals the possibility that something new is happening. It was rare for grave robbers to strike so quickly, especially with a Roman contingent of soldiers to overcome. The fact that Jesus might have risen from the dead provided the best explanation of the empty tomb. No one had done that before. God was up to something new.

Jesus talked about making all things new. When we are confronted by the empty tomb this morning, we face the idea that Jesus accomplished his task. His death and resurrection have made all things new.

We have a new relationship with God. Our new relationship is no longer based on religious rituals such as sacrifices and the prayers of priests. Our relationship is based on the empty tomb of Christ.

We are a forgiven people. We are no longer need to be weighed down by guilt and shame. We are forgiven. Jesus has paid the price.

We have a new reason for living—a new purpose in life. We know longer have to be concerned about our own relationship with God. We are now able to use that time and energy to serve others.


Jesus had told the disciples that he would suffer and die at the hands of the religious and political authorities, but that he would rise again on the third day. The disciples didn’t understand. They were not expecting an empty tomb.

A life of faith is a life of surprises. Life with God is a life where we become somewhat accustomed to expecting the unexpected.

Jeremiah writes in his book of Lamentations that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Life with God is fresh and free as we encounter God in unexpected ways.

We often encounter God’s grace in unexpected ways. It comes and different times, through different people.

God’s offers us unexpected opportunities to serve, to meet the needs of others and to bear witness to our faith and the truth of the gospel.

God occasionally leads us along unexpected paths. Life’s journey is filled with twists and turns. Following the leading of the Holy Spirit causes us to travel in unexpected directions and to unexpected places.


Wherever we travel in life, we do so with the comfort and strength that Jesus is present in our lives.

The empty tomb proclaims that Jesus is alive. Jesus has overcome the grave, and Jesus Christ is present with us now. As the words of the song go, “We know that our redeemer lives!”

Life is full of blessings. Life is also full of risks and challenges—sometimes even tragedies and sadness. Through all of life Jesus has promised to be with us, and the empty tomb assures us that he will.


The disciples discovered the empty tomb over two thousand years ago. It made a difference in their lives, and it makes a difference in our lives today. The good news that Jesus is risen gives us great expectations for today and for each and every day ahead of us.


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