John 11:25, 20:11-16
I want you to imagine that a loved one has died, for some of you, that’s easy to do because you have a loved one that has died, has passed away. Imagine the grief that you would feel on account of that. Imagine your desire to want to see their body as it’s laid before you at the funeral or visitation. But I want you to imagine that you went to the funeral and as the funeral director rolled in the casket, brought it to the front of the church, they opened it up and it was empty.
What would your response be? Probably outraged. What did you do? You must have switched something! Where’s the body? Where’s my loved one? How can you take this from me? In your moment of grief, wanting to see your loved one that one last time to see their body again.
In some ways, I wonder if this is the way that Mary Magdalene felt when she ran to Jesus’ tomb that first Easter Sunday. As she saw the stone had been rolled away and she went back to get some of the disciples, but then returning again beside the tomb, she peered in and she saw that it was empty. There were two angels there who asked her why she is weeping, and she says it’s because they’ve taken the body of her Lord. That was the only possible explanation.
At that moment, she turns around and she’s confronted with the man, a man whom she thinks is the gardener, and she really asks him the same question, where have you placed his body? That man changes everything with one word. Mary. He knew her. More importantly, though, she knew him. She recognized his voice. And Jesus showed that there wasn’t just one explanation for an empty tomb. But in fact, there was something she had never thought of before.
The tomb was empty, not because the body had been misplaced or not because it had been stolen, but because Jesus himself had risen from the dead. And that changed everything for her. It changed her sorrow. It changed her grief. He was back. And she clung to him.
You know what amazing comfort we can have as well, when we think about our loved ones who have died. Yes it can be comforting for us to see their lifeless body in the casket, to say goodbye for one final time. But know this: one day that casket will be empty. It will be empty and what amazing life will be for those who have trusted in their Savior, Jesus Christ. The one who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies.” And Jesus didn’t just say those words, he proved it. He proved it by himself, rising to life from the dead and the empty tomb is a testimony to that fact. So much so that we can have hope for our own loved ones who have died trusting in Jesus to know not only that they will be raised to life one day again on the final day, but they will be raised to eternal life forever in heaven and there we shall see them again. We too can be with them again in heaven forever.
An amazing thing to think about, what amazing comfort and hope that gives us, even when we are filled with so much sorrow and grief over an incredible loss. Well, trusting in our Savior Jesus Christ, we know that he is the resurrection in the life, amen.