The Empty Tomb

You know that moment? It only lasts for a couple of minutes, but it’s strong. You have finally gone on vacation and it’s about time. You find your way through the unfamiliar airport. You need to get your bag and then you’re on your way! Vacation! You look up at the baggage carousel and there! Right there! Is that feeling. It could be gone. Your bag could be missing! Then what would you do!? Many of us have been there taking the drive of disappointment to the drug store for a toothbrush and trying to do laundry in the hotel sink. Something is missing and everything changes! When we near the end of a puzzle there the feeling is again. One could be lost. The puzzle and all this effort could be a complete failure! When you order the chicken nuggets and you clearly asked for sweet and sour sauce and you are in a hurry and as you grab that first nugget and dig through the bag, there’s that feeling again. What if they forgot?! What are you supposed to do? Eat dry chicken nuggets? The sinking feeling is unmistakable. The worry that something is missing and the plan is altered gets us all.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. There it is again. Hello old friend. Hello sinking feeling. THe body of Jesus could be gone! Then the peek into the tomb and just as the worst fear is confirmed, “two men whose clothing gleamed like lightning asked the women, ‘why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, he has risen just as he said.”

Wait we must have missed something! Ok back to chapter 23. The body is laid in the tomb to wait for preparation until after the sabbath day. Next verse- early on the first day of the week very early in the morning…

Don’t you see it? Or rather do you see what’s missing? Don’t you notice that we are very clearly missing the absolute best part of the whole story, the resurrection!! I was expecting the lifeless body we left in chapter 23 reanimated and slowly the stone rolls away. Maybe while it rolls the guards sent are trying with all of their might to keep it closed but there is no use. Then Jesus steps out glowing like the sun and goes on his way. Where. Is. that?

It’s not there. It’s not in Matthew. It’s not in Mark. It’s not in Luke. It’s not in JOhn. It isn’t there. Under the heading “The Resurrection” in the Gospel, it should say, “people learn about the resurrection.” There’s that feeling, that unmistakable feeling that something is lost, that something is missing.  

That feeling, honestly it comes up more than we would like to admit. It’s the same one when we’re not prepared for the big event. It’s the one when we’re caught up in a lie. It’s the one when that relationship has set sail once and for all. Life is full of moments for that sinking feeling to consume us.

But then, just as that sinking feeling takes over the women in our text, two men, whose clothing gleamed like lightning asked the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is risen, just as he said.”

Gallup did a poll that said 84 percent of people who never go to church believe Jesus rose from the dead. It is historical fact; it wasn't done in secret. The whole city of Jerusalem and the whole Roman Empire knew about it. It was news. If CNN had been there, they would have had it live. There are at least 15 historical references to Jesus meeting people, touching people, and talking with people after he had been crucified. One time he cooked breakfast for some people. One time he talked to about 500 people after he had risen from the dead. A lot of people saw him. It did happen! There was no doubting it. The sinking feeling was for naught. The resurrection is real and it’s healing effect to bring life not only to Jesus but to every single one of us is very real. Nothing is missing!!

What’s important is not the depiction of the exact moment, what’s important is that he lives, and his life defeats death itself. His life gives us life eternal! Because he lives, we live too. When we feel like we are missing something, like we don't measure up, or we couldn’t be enough, this very real resurrection changes all of that. This day makes us whole and alive forever and ever. Amen.

He is Risen.


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