Early Easter Sunday
(Mark 16: 1-8).
After the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint the body of Jesus. Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrise, they went to the tomb.
On the way they said to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” (It was a very large stone.) Then they looked up and saw that the stone had already been rolled back. After the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint the body of Jesus. Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrise, they went to the tomb.
So they entered the tomb, where they saw a young man sitting on the right, wearing a white robe — and they were alarmed. “Don't be alarmed,” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is not here — he has been raised! Look, here is the place where they put him. Now go and give this message to his disciples, including Peter: ‘He is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” So they went out and ran from the tomb, distressed and terrified. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
In the last year of his life, Jesus told his disciples plenty of times that he’d be rejected by the religious leaders at the time, that he’d suffer persecution and pain, that he’d die at their hands. But he also said plenty of times that death would be overcome, that he’d live again three days later.
Like the disciples, the women who turned up at his tomb on that Easter morning probably didn’t really believe it was possible, and when they should have been looking forward to his resurrection, what they were doing was taking oils and spices to embalm his body. They would have been in despair, but that despair didn’t take long to be turned to happiness, when the hope they’d placed on Jesus and all he’d stood for was restored to them. Because the empty tomb was the final proof that Jesus really was the Messiah they’d been waiting for. If he’d fulfilled his promise of coming back from the dead three days after being crucified, then, well, everything else that he’d said had to be true as well. And I’m pretty sure that, regardless of everything else that happened after the resurrection, every time the women remembered that empty tomb they’d remember that hope was alive, because Jesus was alive.
By remembering that empty tomb, we can have hope too. Hope for our lives, because Jesus is alive. If he could overcome death and leave the tomb empty, there’s nothing in our lives that he can’t help with, nothing in our lives that’s beyond him.
Maybe you’re trying to cope with illness, your own or of someone close to you. Hope is alive because Jesus is alive. The empty tomb tells you that, whether or not Jesus heals you now, one day you’ll live in a new body that’ll never experience illness.
Maybe you’re going through a tough time surviving through the lockdown, maybe it’s causing financial hardship or straining relationships at home. Hope is alive because Jesus is alive. He cares about you, he’ll provide for you, he’ll be there for you and the empty tomb is proof that he keeps his promises.
Whatever problems you’re going through, whatever trials you’re facing in life and however hard or unlikely you think the solutions might be, remember the empty tomb, because the empty tomb means hope is alive because Jesus is alive.
The tomb is empty, but our lives are full. He has risen!
Heavenly Father, we praise you on this Easter morning, celebrating that your son has been raised to life, rejoicing that Jesus Christ is alive and with us. We think of that empty tomb, proof of his resurrection and proof that hope too, is alive and with us and that your love can fill our hearts. May the joy of this Easter Day give us courage to face whatever comes to us in the days, the months and years ahead, but also forgive us if we act sometimes as if Jesus is still in the tomb, forgive us our sin and our selfishness and set us free to know you and praise you always. In the risen Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.