The Tomb is Empty
Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Sunday - April 12th
Today's Scripture to Read: John 20:11-18
One of my favorite spots to visit is the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. While arguments continue about the exact burial location of Jesus, the Garden Tomb remains untouched. It best represents today the biblical description experientially. It is in a garden. It fits the style, era, and layout, as described in the Gospels. Ultimately, what I like most rests in my own experience of stepping in, seeing it is empty, and stepping out. On the Sunday morning of Jesus' resurrection, Mary would have gone through the same movements - stepping in, seeing it empty, and stepping out. One massive difference between what I saw and Mary saw would have been the angels she caught with her eyes as she looked into the tomb. There was one on the end at the place where Jesus' feet would have been and the other where His head would have been. Never in the handful of times I have stepped into the Garden Tomb have I seen angels there. Angels being present in the tomb doesn't mean as much to me as the tomb being empty. Imagine His body being placed there, resting lifeless for three days and three nights. Then imagine life filling His lungs, and He gets up and walks out. Leaving the tomb without a tenant. Every other deceased human being remains in the grave, except Jesus. An empty tomb means more to me than a tomb full of angels. It means He conquered death, the grave, the curse, and hell itself when He walked out of His grave. The resurrection of Jesus Christ makes Christianity distinct. Every other deceased religious leader or self-proclaimed messiah still remains in their graves. Christianity rests its entire weight of authenticity on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pastor and Christian author Timothy Keller summarizes this distinction of the empty tomb clearly and concisely: "The resurrection makes Christianity the most irritating religion on earth." He is right. Jesus' resurrection irritates so many. Step into the Garden Tomb with me. Duck a little bit. Look around. See the lack of bones. See the glorious emptiness of the space. Step outside. Step back and see the empty tomb. Jesus Christ is not there. He is Risen! No other faith-system claims that. Only Christianity says you can look beyond the tomb and see the LIFE, HOPE, and JOY offered to you by the Risen Christ. That essential claim to Christianity irritates others. Those who follow other religious systems don't have that kind of hope. But, you and I do. The tomb is empty! Jesus is alive!
Because the tomb of Jesus is empty, our hearts can be full of life, hope, and joy!