Summary: The significance of the empty tomb that first Easter

Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come; see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ’He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

This is the Gospel of our Risen Savior.

Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

“Running On Empty”

Whenever I’m driving down the road and I glance at my gas gauge and realize that I have forgotten to fill the tank before I started out, I panic. Now, my little car gets pretty good mileage (about 42 mpg) but there have been times when I’ve glanced down and found that I was way below empty. Immediately I try to estimate the distance to the next town and the next gas station and I slow down to conserve gas. Once night, a few years back, while on a business trip I noticed that my tank was right on empty. I knew that there was a gas station at the next exit, which I knew was only a few miles away, so I wasn’t too worried. For some reason I got to daydreaming as usual and drove right on by. By the time I realized what I had done it was too late. I got a sick-to-my stomach feeling and became quite agitated and nervous. I slowed down even more to conserve gas but there is only so slow you can go on an Interstate Highway. After a few miles I noticed a sign saying it was 20 miles to the next exit. OK, I thought, that’s only about a half-gallon of gas, maybe more at 45 mph. I can make that easily. As I approached the exit my hopes were dashed when I didn’t see the friendly lights of any gas station. The exit was just that, an exit, nothing else. The next sign said 25 miles to the next exit. I prayed that I could make it and that there was a station open because I really didn’t relish the thought of running out of gas in the middle of Kansas in the middle of the night. That was the longest 25 miles I ever drove. Every bump in the road, every noise, every vibration I felt made me think my motor was sputtering, using the last of that precious liquid. When I finally got within a mile of the exit, I could see the dazzling, welcoming lights of a truck stop. I remember pushing in on the clutch and coasting up the exit ramp, not wishing to run out now. I made it to the pump and filled up. You can’t imagine how happy and thankful I was. I vowed never to get that low again, a vow I have since broken. I don’t really know how far I can drive once my gauge gets to empty and I hope I never find out the hard way.

The word empty is not a positive word. It stirs up many negative connotations such as, “my life is empty without you”, “my glass is half empty”, “my checking account is empty”, “the cookie jar is empty” or “the refrigerator is empty”. When we hear the word “empty” we may become panicked, nervous or, at least concerned or disappointed. Such was the case when Mary Magdalene and the other women came to the tomb that first Easter morning. When they saw that the tomb was empty, they became panicked and afraid. We recall in the reading from Mark’s Gospel of the visit to the tomb:

Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, `He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’ " They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 16:5-8

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