About the author: Adam Wright lives in Zionsville with his wife Katie and four kids Avery (11), Brady (10), Mac (8) and Griffin (5). They recently returned to ZPC after having attended in high school and being married here.
About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals for Holy Week. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc devo to 39970. We welcome your comments and questions each day.
The Empty Tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 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.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Whenever I travel for work I am always anxious to get home. No matter how long or short the trip, once I land in Indianapolis I can’t get back to my wife and four kids fast enough. On a recent trip, I was especially excited to see my family, so I zipped across I-70 and up 465, but when I walked into my house, there was no one there. It felt empty. I wasn’t sure where they were and while I knew they would likely be home soon I was clouded with disappointment.
Take that disappointment, or a similar one you may have felt and multiply that by a billion. Must that have been what Mary Magdalene and the two disciples succumbed to as they stumbled into an open and empty tomb? My momentary sadness and delayed gratification seems inconsequential compared to the confusion, fear, and sadness that inevitably gripped those three.
As the scripture details, Jesus soon appeared to Mary and his disciples, fulfilling his promise to rise from the dead on the third day. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, you and I have a path to eternal life in heaven. He left an empty tomb behind and now salvation is an option for you and for me. His offer of a saving grace is what we celebrate today. If you’re like me, though, you’re guilty of living into that grace on Sunday and falling back into the grip of culture on Monday. We slowly sink into our temptations and unintentionally allow our schedules to determine our path.
This time that seems to slip out of our control is precious. Our time on Earth is short. We are called to make the most of it. In John 10:10 Jesus told his followers that he came, “so that they may have life and have it abundantly.” That he would lay down his life for them, defeat death, and walk out of a tomb so they “would have life and have it to the full.” The creator of the universe humbled himself to become a man in all the good, bad, ugly, and smelly of humanity; was threatened, mocked, battered, beaten; and ultimately hung on a cross and buried in the depths of a tomb so that you and I could live life to the fullest. Are you living life to the full in the way God intended?
May the empty tomb serve as a visual reminder for you to wake up each day and claim the life God wants for you. There will undoubtedly be struggles and mistakes along the way, but imagine for a second a world where each of us is striving to live life to the fullest in the way God intended. Easter is our chance to do just that. To live into his grace. To live boldly. To live remembering why that tomb was empty. To live full.
Each time you come across something empty- be it an unexpectedly quiet house with no kids, a tank of gas or a cup after the last sip of coffee- take a few seconds to reflect and thank Jesus for leaving that tomb empty so that you could live life to the full.
Heavenly Father, you are awesome. Thank you for your son Jesus. Thank you for defeating death through his resurrection. May the empty tomb be a reminder of that grace, and may you help me live my life to its full, following you and nothing else. Give me the courage to stand out and live boldly for you. Amen.