Summary: The women who followed Jesus discovered that the tomb was empty. Peter and the beloved disciples confirmed their discovery. For the rest of their lives, these people discovered how the empty tomb opened up God's kingdom to them.
John 20:1-18 “The Message of the Empty Tomb”
Occasionally a Good Friday situation slips into our lives. These are situations that appear to be hopeless and beyond God’s power—times when we wonder if there will ever be life after death. For some Good Fridays happen frequently. No matter how often they occur one Good Friday is one too much.
The great news is that Easter follows Good Friday. What seemed hopeless suddenly changed. The fact that the tomb of Jesus the Christ is empty powerfully shapes our lives today. The empty tomb has a message for each and every one of us that we need to heed.
The women go to the tomb early in the morning. When they arrive at the tomb they discover that the stone has been rolled away and that the tomb is empty. They don’t know what happened—how to explain an empty tomb. Mary Magdalene runs to the disciples to tell them what has happened. Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved rush to the tomb and see that it is empty and the grave clothes are lying on the ledge. It didn’t dawn on the disciples that Jesus had predicted this. When they leave the tomb they leave it confused.
After the disciples leave, Mary stands outside the tomb weeping. She sees two angels in the tomb and then she sees Jesus. She doesn’t recognize him until Jesus says her name. Once Mary recognizes Jesus she realizes at least one truth that the empty tomb is conveying. Jesus lives and he is among the living and not the dead.
Jesus continues to be a part of our history and our lives even after two millennia. Paul writes that we are “in Christ,” and that Christ is “in us.” Some of our favorite hymns talk about what a friend we have in Jesus and that Jesus walks with us and talks with us. Because of the empty tomb, we have an ongoing relationship with Jesus, Our Lord. Living out our faith as Christians means living in a relationship with God.
MORE TO LIFE
The empty tome also reminds us that Jesus has conquered death. His is the first resurrection of many. Death no longer cages us.
The empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection allow us to celebrate death rather than be grieved by it. Certainly we grieve the separation of loved ones, but at the same time we celebrate that there will be a time when we will be in God’s presence together.
The empty tomb and the resurrection remind us that this physical life is not all that there is. We do not need to eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die. Life is more than affluence, wealth and comfort. Because of the resurrection, we can lift our attention from ourselves and shift it to others. Sharing and serving are marks of faith in Christ—faith in the truth of the resurrection.
The empty tomb is a testament to the truth that God is moving powerfully in our world. He moved powerfully throughout the Old Testament. He moved powerfully in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and he is moving powerfully today.