“From the Empty Tomb”
Jesus had been tortured and executed, and on Sunday morning, some of His women disciples went to the tomb to anoint his body. The tomb was empty and they became confused. They're supposed to go back and tell the other disciples, but they were afraid and they ran away, everything's in disarray and the gospel ends right there. Not a very comforting or encouraging ending; it's too abrupt.
But that's almost certainly the way it was. Nobody saw Jesus rise from the dead, so when they discovered the tomb was empty, they were upset, afraid, confused and it wasn’t clear to them immediately, only gradually, over a period of time as they began to experience Jesus alive in their midst did they really experience the mystery of the empty tomb.
This is what is supposed to happen in our own lives, as we experience the living Jesus in our midst. It took quite a long time for the disciples to sort all of this out. Slowly, they remembered the ways in which they experienced the presence of Jesus. Much later these events where described to others and written down for us as the Gospel.
What had happened? The disciples began to understand that by the way he died, loving and forgiving those who were putting him to death, loving his enemy, doing good to those who were executing him, that he was showing what God’s love for us is.
He was alive and they began to experience that presence and to understand, he shows us the way. He shows us how we must be ready to respond to violence or to hatred, to those who hurt us. The way to life -- that's what Jesus is showing us as the only way. Those first disciples also experienced Jesus as a healing and comforting presence in their midst. Peter and John were on their way to the temple to pray and they encountered this poor person, who was in need of healing.
As Peter explains, 'Jesus is the way,' Jesus is the healing power, 'in the name of Jesus,' we are healed and made whole, and only in the name of Jesus. So each of us has a responsibility to listen closely to the times when the first disciples began to witness Jesus alive among them. We have to try in our own prayer, to open our hearts and listen, to find Jesus present and leading us.
If we listen to Jesus and try to follow his way of love, then we will experience what the disciple John observes, 'See what extraordinary love God has for us.' We are called children of God and we really are. That's what's even more astounding, that we are sons and daughters of God if we listen to Jesus. The disciple says, 'Beloved, we are God's children, and what we shall be has not yet been shown, but when Jesus appears again in glory, we know that we shall be like him.' We can have the fullness of life and joy and peace of Christ, the son of God if we follow him from the empty tomb.
Christ Is Risen!