The Vacant Tomb

By Pr. Rich Futrell

The Solemn Journey

Early Sunday morning, while dawn kissed the horizon with hues of gold and rose, three friends—Mary Magdalene, Mary (James’ mother), and Salome—gathered their fragrant spices.  Hands moved, intent on a sacred task to honor their beloved Lord.  In the blush of morning, this trio approached Jesus’ burial place, a tomb hewn from stone.

The women, burdened beneath the waking sun, tread a solemn path to where their teacher lay.  “A stone blocks the entrance,” one of them heaves.  “More, we’ll need muscled arms to move it aside”: a monolith, a barrier to their goal.  Anxious thoughts accompany them as they approach the tomb.

Upon arrival, their anxiety dissolves into awe as they behold the sight of the moved stone, evoking wonder amid their whispers carried by the wind.  Gasps escape their lips as they peer inside the tomb.  A figure shrouded in white awaited them, both startling and serene. 

The Astonishing Revelation

“Be not afraid,” his voice soothing as a calm sea, “you seek Jesus of Nazareth who endured crucifixion.  Rejoice!  He has risen from death!  Behold the emptiness where he once lay.  Now go and share this with His disciples and Peter, ‘Jesus awaits in Galilee as promised.’”

Despite the angel’s words echoing in their minds, the women flee, leaving the fragrance of spices behind them.  Hearts quicken with news too impossible to grasp.  No word of this marvel do they speak.  The events leave them entwined in a mystery, where their answers for others must wait upon their lips.  So wrote the Evangelist Mark.

Empty often means something’s missing.  Gas tanks run dry, wallets grow lighter, and hearts sink.  A car sputters, pleading as the dash light blinks empty.  An echo from an unfilled bank account chills the heart.  Who celebrates nothingness?

On the first Easter morning, as dawn threaded silver through the skies, a different emptiness cracked the shell of sorrow.  Three women wended their way to Jesus’ ultimate resting place.  Mourning the brutal, unjust death of Jesus, they bore aromatic herbs, expecting to find Him in the grave’s stony clutch.  Love guided them to a tomb, hoping to do their last tribute to their friend, a homage wrapped in grief.

Muscles tensed to move the rock; minds set on the sad task ahead.  The sun peeked, and something shifted deep within their souls.  Braced for the weight of grief, ready to anoint their Beloved silent in death’s clutch, what met them whispered otherwise.  The tomb stood open, and its guardian, a stone, rolled aside.  So baffling, the scene before them.

Surprise met them with the stone rolled aside, and chaos met them where they sought solemnity.  Behold, the tomb lay open!  The grave, a gaping maw, startled them.  Inside, a messenger clothed in white stood beside an empty grave, whose words pierced the air, “He is not here.”

Emptiness Transformed

This angel gave proof, pointing to where Jesus once lay, a cavity devoid of death.  The emptiness sang a different song from the death we grieve too well, a dissonant chord in the melody of mortality.  Tombs shouldn’t echo absence, for we moved to death’s dance for far too long.  Gravesites lock away laughter, and future embraces and answer our partings with only silence.

The absence sculpted a grander narrative.  Graves signify an end, but this one broke death’s inevitable chain.  Fresh as morning dew, their loss now clashes with the emptiness.  The angel challenges them to consider as he beckons them to discern, not dismiss, the evidence before them. 

Now, this void holds a different tale.  Death, the inevitable thief, finds itself robbed of victory.  The silence of the empty grave is loud with meaning.  Jesus, once crucified and buried, is risen, for He is more than Mary’s son—He is the Christ, the Son of God Himself!  Here stands evidence, not of a son lost, but a Savior proclaimed!

Victory Over Death

The crescendo of what lay unsaid reached through the hollow tomb’s mouth—Christ is risen!  Joy, most unlooked for, springs from this vacancy.  Sin, death, hell, triumphant in their conceit, sought Jesus’ demise but, instead, met God.  Death lost its prey.  Sin and its shadows, those spectres birthed by the devil’s grin, grasped at God’s Son.  Oh, but when Satan unleashed his worst on Jesus, this only unveiled God’s best—His own, His blessed Son!  Hell touched God and recoiled in defeat.

Rejoice in this barren tomb, for it brims with glad tidings! Christ’s sacrifice is Father-approved; the act is complete.  “It is finished,” Jesus declared—a sentiment echoed by God the Father as He raised His Son from the grip of earth.  Our sins stand forgiven.  The empty tomb means faith in Christ is never empty!

Jesus bore death’s full might, crushing its venomous bite.  Questions echo into the void: “O death, where is your sting? O Grave, where is your victory?”  The answer is in its stark absence, pointing to life, both here and beyond this world.

In Christ, empty no longer means absence but fullness.  This emptiness, once startling, now holds boundless joy—for Christ is not here but risen!  These words stir the soul, for in this vacancy, we find our joy complete.  Amen.


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