An Empty Tomb and a Strange Conversation
Here’s the breaking news—HE IS NO LONGER DEAD! Yes, that is correct.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
The tomb is empty.
Jesus was not there.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Dead people stay in their tombs.
But this tomb is empty.
Sabbath prohibitions had allowed time only to wrap the body Friday afternoon before the Sabbath, so the women needed to get to the tomb as early as possible to complete the washing and anointing of the body.
So, after a long, likely sleepless Friday night and Sabbath, the women rose early to go to the tomb, hoping that the stench of rapid decomposition in the hot Mediterranean days might have been mitigated adequately by the two-thousand-foot elevation of Jerusalem in April combined with a sealed tomb.
With spices in hand, possibly purchased the previous evening after the Sabbath had ended, they approach the tomb, wondering who might be around to help them roll the stone away. As they approach the tomb, they see that the stone has been rolled away.
Has someone else come to anoint the body?
Has Joseph returned to his tomb to ensure that all is well, given that everything happened so quickly Friday evening?
The women came to the tomb prepared to deal with a dead body. I think we can be sure that an empty tomb was not even on their radar.
Entering the tomb, a young man dressed in white frightens them. The tomb was not empty, but the one they expected to see was not there.
“Don’t be afraid,” the young man says to them,…
Translation: Don’t freak out! Take a deep breath. Everything is going to be okay.
“You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene…
Translation: Yes, they were in the right tomb.
… who was crucified…
Translation: Yes, he really was dead.
…He has risen…
Translation: Here’s the breaking news—HE IS NO LONGER DEAD! Yes, that is correct.
…He is not here…
Translation: As you can plainly see.
… See the place where they laid him…
Translation: Yes, he’s definitely not there.
…But go, tell his disciples and Peter that Jesus is going ahead of you into Galilee…
Translation: That’s right, there will be no burial preparations here today. Instead, you will be the first to proclaim this news about Jesus. Get movin’!
…There you will see him…
Translation: He is not here. Go to where he is. When you get there, you will see him. And when you do, your life will never be the same again.
The Bible does not offer a neatly folded map or “a perfect plan for your life” or a bottle-fed blueprint for living. The good news was not a new set of laws or a new set of ethical injunctions or a new and better seven-point PLAN.
The good news was the story of a victory that had already been won by the person of Jesus the Christ. The good news is glad tidings of a beautiful new relationship between humans and the divine: God so loved the world… Christ so redeemed the world…The Holy Spirit so pervades the world…That a new world is coming. That’s the GOOD NEWS!
Leonard Sweet, “So Beautiful” (Kindle 2243)
Peter would become a key figure as the story moves forward from here. By way of the young man’s message to the women, Peter and the other failed disciples are welcomed back into a shalom-based relationship with Jesus. They are invited to rejoin him in his mission.
Judas is left out, for obvious reasons, but I can’t help but wonder what a reunion of Judas and Jesus might have looked like had Judas not ended his life. Can you imagine what that scene would have looked like?
I think it would have been epic.
[This story is an excerpt from Mark’s Unfinished Story]
PRAISE GOD! Jesus us alive and well! His Father is in control of everything!!