Summary: There is a tomb in a distant land with silent walls as well. If that tomb could speak to us what would it say? What would it tell us of the terrible – tragic – thrillingly triumphant events that transpired there some two thousand years ago?
TITLE: THE TESTIMONY OF AN EMPTY TOMB
SCRIPTURE: ST. LUKE 24:1-12
Have you ever stood and just looked at an old empty house in a neighborhood? Perhaps the doors stand ajar, sagging on hinges, loosened by the ravages of weather and time. Have you noticed the vacant stare of glassless windows? If you paused to listen you could almost hear the loud and boisterous cries of generations of happy children that once echoed from its walls and filled its now silent emptiness.
If you pause and consider long enough, your mind’s eye might conjure up visions of familiar and nostalgic scenes of yesteryear.
• Of family circles unbroken
• Of those that once gathered for joyous festive family feasts
• Or of the tragic and traumatic events that changed things forever for those who once sheltered there
• Of ordinary and natural happenings that led to its now sad and silent state
I often think as I am sitting in the Church Parsonage about Sister Bunny Johnson and Deacon Andrew Johnson, whom I had not met before his passing. They formally owned and occupied the dwelling. I often times think of the happy times they must have shared in the home. The many holidays that were celebrated there. Their tears also shed through the years that Sister Bunny travelled back and forth to that home alone after the passing of her husband.
• I imagine some of you still travel out to the old Homestead where you were reared and can hear the laughter and almost hear the voices of those that have gone on before us
If the walls could speak - what tales might be told of the terrible tragedies or thrilling triumphs that were played out? What testimony could they give to the human conditions of sorrow and sadness and love, joy, happiness?
There is a tomb in a distant land with silent walls as well. If that tomb could speak to us what would it say? What would it tell us of the terrible – tragic – thrillingly triumphant events that transpired there some two thousand years ago?
• What would its testimony be?
• What is the testimony of the empty tomb today?
• THE EMPTY TOMB TESTIFIES OF A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY TRANSFORMED INTO A TREMENDOUS TRIUMPH
--This is the testimony trumpeted by that grand old hymn of the faith:
--Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Saviour!
--Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
--Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.
--He arose a victor from the dark domain.
--And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
--He arose! He Arose Hallelujah! Christ arose!
--Yes, The Testimony of an Empty Tomb
There can be no doubt those who were Jesus closest followers were those most deeply and adversely effected by the tragic and traumatic events of His passion. We are repeatedly told in the Gospels of the doubt – fear - perplexity – that overwhelmed them. Even before the events truly began to come to pass, Jesus tried to prepare his followers for the shock and horror they would face on His crucifixion day. He reassured them that the power of God would turn the apparent tragedy into a glorious triumph. He said –
--"For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." ST MATTHEW 12:40
--Jesus answered and said unto them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." ST. JOHN 2:19
It is clear that those of the watching and waiting world felt they were witnessing an unsurpassed tragedy. His disciples in particular were clearly crushed and confused.
• How could this happen to their Master?
• Had they believed in vain?
• Had such terrible evil evidently and ultimately triumphed over goodness and Godliness?
• Then comes the triumphant cry of the angel - "He is not here, He is risen!"
Go with me over to the Holy Land and let’s listen to The Testimony of an Empty Tomb. If only the walls could talk in that tomb that held the body of Jesus. If the walls of the tomb could talk they would tell us of the many conversations they heard on that Dreadful Day. I believe the walls would begin by telling us about two men that entered the Tomb carrying the Body of Jesus.
• One was a Rich man by the name of Joseph from Arimathaea – he was a disciple of Jesus
• ST. MATTHEW 27:57-60 “WHEN THE EVEN WAS COME, THERE CAME A RICH MAN OF ARIMATHAEA, NAMED JOSEPH, WHO ALSO HIMSELF WAS JESUS’ DISCIPLE: HE WENT TO PILATE, AND BEGGED THE BODY OF JESUS. THEN PILATE COMMANDED THE BODY TO BE DELIVERED. AND WHEN JOSEPH HAD TAKEN THE BODY, HE WRAPPED IT IN A CLEAN LINEN CLOTH. AND LAID IT IN HIS OWN NEW TOMB, WHICH HE HAD NEWN OUT IN THE ROCK, AND HE ROLLED A GREAT STONE TO THE DOOR OF THE SEPULCHRE, AND DEPARTED