Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Lingering at the Empty Tomb

Meditation for the week of April 4, 2010

John 20:11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.

Sorrow and disappointment are a part of life.  The Lord had experienced sorrow when He was crucified.  Many of his followers had also experienced sorrow and disappointment when their hope of seeing the Lord crowned as an earthly king was dashed.  Mary Magdalene certainly experienced sorrow and disappointment, not only when the Lord was crucified, but now at the tomb when she found it empty.  

After looking into the tomb with Peter and John, they had all believed; but what had they believed?  They apparently all believed that the body had been stolen from the sepulcher.   She had said to Peter and John,  "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him (verse 2)."  So after the others had looked inside and had gone back home, she lingers at the tomb and decides to take another look.  This time she sees angels who ask her why she is weeping.  She says she is weeping because she doesn’t know what has happened to the body of the Lord.  So at this point she certainly didn’t believe in the resurrection of the Lord.  But because she lingered, she saw One that she thought was the gardener, but Who turned out to be the Lord.  She lingered because of her love.  He love was rewarded with the Lord appearing personally to her and assuring her that He was indeed alive.  Her sorrow was turned to joy (John 16:20).

Often, in our worship, we let our thought linger at the cross.  But the cross gives us no hope, no joy, no comfort.  The cross reminds us of the cruelty of man to man, of the injustice of human courts, of envy, of sin and of darkness.  It reminds us that we are all sheep, easily persuaded by those who are evil to do evil. The religious leaders were able to stir up a mob that wanted Him crucified even though He had only done good in His life.  The cross is bloody and reminds us of the great cost of sin.   If the story of redemption stopped with the cross, we would have no victory, no hope and no salvation in which to rejoice.  Paul says our faith would be empty and our lives would be empty as well (1 Corinthians 15:14,19). 

The joy, the hope, and the victory of the Christian is not found at the cross, but at the empty tomb.  This tomb was empty because the Lord had risen.  He was and is alive.  Because the Lord was raised from the dead, we have confidence that the grave will not be able to hold us either.  The empty tomb would be meaningless without the cross since Christ had to die for our sins.  But the cross would be meaningless without an empty tomb because that is what convinces us that Christ died for our sins and not for His own (1 Peter 3:18, Romans 4:24-25).

Somehow, it is easy to believe that two thousand years ago, a man who was called Jesus, died on a cross at the request of the Jews but by the hands of the Roman government.  Somehow, many find it hard to believe that this same man was raised from the dead.  Crucifixion was usual in that day.  But the resurrection, now that is another story!  And yet, without the resurrection, we are a lost, hopeless, helpless people.  Mary was one  of over five hundred witnesses to the fact that the Lord had risen (1 Corinthians 15:6).  Because of her love and her lingering, she had the privilege of being the first to tell the other disciples that Christ was indeed alive. 

Lingering at the cross is good.  Lingering at the empty tomb is better.

Bruce Collins

1 Comment »

Comment by Dianne

April 5, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

I really enjoyed these thoughts, Bruce, thanks so much.

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