THE EMPTY TOMB John Poitevint / April 17, 2022
Recently I read a sign outside a church building on a trip to Georgia. The sign read. “Because the tomb is empty, the church should be full”. I have thought a great deal about that sign ever since. I concluded that while it is a catchy phrase, I’m not so sure it is true. As I began to work on today’s sermon, “Easter - Preparation for Eternity”, I became more convinced that the “empty tomb” should not be the main point of our faith…yes, it is of grave importance, and yes, we could not make it to heaven without the resurrection, but on the other hand, there is something missing that is very crucial to the story of the empty tomb.
A close look at the Gospels reveals it to us. When Mary Magdalene and the Apostles, John and Peter, leave the tomb after the discovery that it was empty---there is very little excitement and a lot of bewilderment about what it all meant (Mark 16:8; John 20:11). The scene that follows finds Jesus’ disciples struggling to believe the news (Mark 16:14) and hiding behind locked doors (John 20:19) …little had changed with the knowledge of the “empty tomb”.
So, what finally changed these disciples and sent them on a mission to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6)? The answer: meeting the resurrected Jesus. It is only then in the Gospels that the disciples’ lives are transformed. Now doubts persisted (Matt. 28:17), but without encountering the risen Christ there is no transformation.
Friends and brethren, the issue today is not whether one knows the tomb is empty, but whether you have come in contact with the resurrected Jesus. The resurrection is not solely about the missing body of a dead Jesus in an empty tomb, but the presence of a live Jesus in our lives! The empty tomb simply leaves space for a LIVING LORD.
Finally, it is fair to ask where a person is most likely to meet this risen Savior. Religious folks give many answers, but one will do. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that Jesus has a body still present on the earth, and His body continues to live and serve today. That BODY---is the CHURCH, and if a person seeks an encounter with the LIVING LORD, then being in CHURCH with His people is a good place to start.