Skip to main content

The Empty Tomb

              What does an empty tomb mean to you?  When you approach an empty tomb what goes through your mind? 
              When Peter and John approached the empty tomb, scripture tells us they believed but did not understand.  John 20:8-10:  Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)  Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. 
              On Easter, we celebrate the empty tomb.  The empty tomb was the first sign of hope.  Its emptiness turned the followers of Christ mind’s back on God and His Kingdom work.  They did not fully understand what its emptiness meant.  They knew that God was at work.
              It was later in the day that Jesus began revealing Himself, first to Mary Magdalene who was alone in the garden, overwhelmed by her grief and despair because she did not understand.  Later in the afternoon He taught a world-class Bible lesson from the Old Testament while walking to Damascus explaining why this was exactly the way it had to happen.  In the evening, He came to the room where a group of His frightened disciples were gathered and breathed a blessing of peace, and eating food so they could understand that he wasn’t a ghost.  Understanding the power of the Resurrection is a lifelong lesson.
              For some time on Easter morning, the only evidence that Jesus had risen from the dead was an empty tomb.  This fact became more meaningful to me this Easter.  As I attended the Sunrise service the reality of what the women and Peter and John took in became personal.  A pattern I have developed for Lent is to ask God for something very important to me for forty days.  The last two Lenten seasons I have been diligent in my daily focus on prayer.  Both years the answer has been no.  The negative response to my prayer has not been because I didn’t ask.  It wasn’t because I didn’t ask in faith.  It wasn’t because I wasn’t asking for the impossible.  It was simply because what I ask for is not God’s best for me.  I need to accept that fact and I do.  I could have a hundred arguments for God about why my way is better, but I know that His way is better and that the problem is that I can’t understand it now.  I honestly believe this with all my heart.
              This year was a little different.  I realized that God has given me all kinds of signs that He has heard my prayer and that His no to me is not made in a haphazard way.  My Lenten prayer focus had brought me to an empty tomb by Easter Sunday.  I did not see the answer I wanted.  I am not relieved from that focus of prayer.  BUT I can see an empty tomb.  I, like Peter and John, can walk into it and realize that though I don’t understand, I know that God is doing something good.
              I’m so glad that first century people buried their dead in cut out tombs from rock and rolled heavy stones across them.  This provides such a lovely vision for me when I revisit that first Easter Sunday in my mind.  I had the privilege of being in Jerusalem and actually stooping into an empty first century tomb.  There is a permanence about a tomb like that.  It is solid and secure and stands the tests of time.  This is how I view my empty tomb in answer to my Lenten prayers.  I realize that though the tomb is empty, it is a sign to me that God has heard my prayers, they are precious to Him, but that He alone knows how I best want them answered.  For now, I will celebrate that there is an empty tomb and that means that God is most certainly at work!

Copyright © 2017.  Deborah R Newman  All Rights Reserved.


Popular posts from this blog

You Shall Not Be Overcome

I distinctly remember sending this quote by Julian of Norwich to a recently widowed friend of mine over ten years ago.  You will not be overcome.
God did not say you will not be troubled,
You will not be belaboured,
You will not be disquieted;
But God said, You will not be overcome.
The quote in one of my devotional books for July 23, which marks the day I became a widow myself is by the same author.  “One day God spoke to me and I heard these words, “you won’t be overcome.”  God wants us to pay attention to His words.  God wants us to be strong in our certainty in Him, always, both in good times and in bad.  The Lord loves us, and God so enjoys our company.  God loves being with us and wants us to love Him and enjoy being with Him and trust Him completely, and all will be well.”  As I write this six years since his death I can attest to the reality that all will be well.  God chose to bless me with a second marriage to a wonderful man who holds my hand through this hur…

The Worst

What is the worst thing you think could happen to you?  There are so many options in a fallen world that it is hard to consider the worst.  We try not to think about it.  We do think we are going through the worst thing when we lose a loved one, are betrayed by a friend or family, sent to prison, or become the victim of a crime.  You know the worst thing that has happened to you.  You can think of someone for whom you are grateful that what happened to that person didn’t happen to you.               The world is full of frightening and dreaded options of worst case scenarios.  When you read the Bible, it is not hard to decide what the worst thing that could happen in your lifetime would be.  The Bible makes it clear that the worst is that you do not believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and be saved.               That sounds like a Sunday School answer doesn’t it?  It doesn’t feel that bad to say “No Thank You” to God.  Many don’t even recognize the day that they to…

Repenting for My Worship

Psalm 51: 15-17 describes true worship: Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
               The Lenten Season shoves in our faces the reality of who God is.  He is the God who killed His Son to conquer death for the humans He had formed with His hands in love.  What kind of God does that?  What kind of God creates heavens and earths, all the while knowing that the inhabitants could turn on Him in an instant? He had the power to destroy everything He created, yet finds a way to allow all the inhabitants to have their own way, either to follow Him or follow their own will?  He is the GREAT I AM.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He is worthy of all praise.  He created us to bring Him praise (Isaiah 43:21).  He declares that His Son is worthy of even higher prai…