Pastor Dan Eddy
What’s in the Empty Tomb for me?
Why are you here today? Please don’t misunderstand the question. On behalf of the Scituate Clergy Association, I am glad you are here today. This is a special time of the year for me, and I know it is for you or you wouldn’t be here, right?
But let me lovingly ask, why are you here today? Why did you get up this early? Just to see a sunrise. As you can see, we can not see this morning’s sunrise. And I have a feeling many of you can do that anytime…you probably do on the mornings to need to get on the road really early to beat traffic.
So why are you here today? What does this true story about an empty tomb of some guy name Jesus have anything to do with your lives, with your health concerns, your financial struggles, your relationship difficulties? What is in this empty tomb, from almost 2000 years ago, have anything to do with you?
It’s okay for you to ask these questions. It’s an honest, truthful and fair thing to do.
Well put the care of the day aside for a moment and imagine you are Apostles Peter or John. You have just seen your mentor, your teacher, your God in human (fleshly) form, be brutally beaten and murdered. And in the case of John, you actually saw Jesus die right before your eyes.
Now it’s three calendar days later and you are still in shock. Have any of you had a friend murdered? You know the trauma has not worn off. And to make things worse your friend’s body that was being prepared for a proper permanent burial has disappeared from His grave.
How would you react? I think we would run and want to see this with our own eyes.
What was puzzling to Peter and John when they looked in is they not only saw an empty tomb, but there was evidence there that this body probably hadn’t been stolen.
Why would grave robbers bother to take the time…in the dark…to take the strips of linen cloth off the body? Why would the burial cloth, put around Jesus’ head, be all neatly folded up?
And here’s the big one. Why would John see all this in the empty tomb and then all of sudden believe? Believe what?
Well to answer these questions…I have to ask you, have you ever had an “ah-ha” moment in your life? A moment where life was so confusing until some event, some person, something someone said, something you saw…helped you start clarifying all of the confusion.
In verse 8…the Apostle John was having an “ah-ha” moment. He was starting to figure out that Jesus had defeated death by rising from the dead in the flesh.
Over the previous three years, Jesus said things clearly to His Disciples that were just too hard believe: pointing out their many sins, telling them He would have to suffer and die for those sins, and that He would rise from dead?
Their reaction probably was “I’m not that bad, Lord, so you don’t need to die for me. Oh how awful of a thing to predict about yourself.. suffering and dying. And what are talking about rising from dead?”
Jesus teachings were at times so far from where they saw their lives.
Jesus in God’s Word through the Holy Spirit is saying things to you right now; things to you that might be just too hard to believe.
It’s easier to see other’s people sins than to see our own. It’s inconceivable to even admit we’ve done wrong that Christ needed to correct with His brutal death on the Cross. And what in the world, does His rising from the dead have to do with your life today?
Over the next 50 days, John and the other Apostles would experience a lot of “ah-ha” moments as they saw Jesus alive in the flesh, as they reflected on all of Jesus’ teachings, and in all of the known Scripture from God at that time.
They learned just how sinful they were, just how much Jesus sacrificed to save them from eternity in Hell, and just how much He loved them to give them faith in Him so they could spend forever in Heaven with Him. Most importantly they saw just how much His spilled blood paid for their sins so He could give them forgiveness. And how much He wanted them to tell others just how much He loved all human beings.
And these “ah-ha” moments started with Jesus’ empty tomb.
What’s in the Empty Tomb for you? Victory!! Victory over your sin with Christ’s forgiveness if you want it. Victory over death (if you want it) so this life is not all there is to your existence, but a life beyond this one where you will never face health problems, financial struggles, or relationship difficulties?
What is in this empty tomb for you is the promise that God keeps His promises. And what He gave His Son He will give to you if you, like John, believe in Him.
Everything Jesus gave His Disciples He gives you, if you want it.
And I want you to have more “ah-ha” moments in your life, to clear up the confusion, to give you hope, to offer you something more than what you are experiencing, right now.
And it starts with the prayer card in your bulletin this morning. We all have needs and isn’t it nice when someone else can pray to God on your behalf. Please fill out your prayer card. We have pencils up here to fill them out. I guarantee you that someone will pray for you and your needs today.
And then if you want more “ah-ha” moments of how Jesus Christ has and can work in your life…I invite you, if you haven’t already, to visit the Scituate Clergy Association Churches…listed in your bulletin…if you are not currently worshipping on a regular basis at any congregation.
Look for the true Christ-centered message from God’s Word of Scripture and have more “ah-ha” moments.
My prayer for you is that you can see more and more what Jesus Christ’s empty tomb means for your life today.
And to help you remember Jesus has not stopped loving and caring you for today, I want to leave you with this final thought. Verse 7 talked about Jesus’ neatly folded head cloth.
Why did Jesus fold this cloth, this napkin?
days a folded napkin had to do with the master and servant, and every Jewish
boy knew this tradition.
When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.
The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished.
Now if the master was done eating, he would stand up from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his face, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table.
The servant would then know to clear the table. The wadded cloth meant, "I'm finished."
But if the master got up from the table, and folded this cloth, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would dare not touch the table, because the folded napkin meant, "I'm coming back!"
Jesus is not done loving you. He is coming back one day to raise you from your graves so you can live with Him forever, if you have faith in Him. In the meantime, celebrate His empty tomb…knowing your tomb, too, will be empty one day. Amen.