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… John 20:1, 2
We are all familiar with this story. The title of this section in my Bible says, “The Empty Tomb.” Jesus had spent three years living with, teaching, demonstrating, and revealing Truth to his disciples. In very clear language he’d told them several times that he would die but that he would live again, and they would have great joy. If we’d had an opportunity to talk with them, I’m sure they would confidently proclaim their knowledge of God’s Son and his mission and assure us of his sovereignty. We would probably be impressed by these great men of God.
And yet, after seeing Jesus’ crucifixion, their primary focus seems to be preparing and preserving his body and hiding from the Jewish leaders. What had come of the three years of intensive discipleship? Of the signs and wonders? The time of testing had shown them all to be small in their faith, at best, and deserters, at worst. All that abiding had culminated in a ragtag band reconvening to mourn their mutual disillusionment. (Or lost ambitions…)
Remember the men on the road to Emmaus? “…we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21) All their dreams and expectations were dashed because of Jesus’ crucifixion. Although he’d predicted everything that would happen, even saying, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19) He’d indicated the way he would die with every reassurance that he would rise again. But it wasn’t what they expected. It didn’t happen the way they’d planned.
When they reached the Empty Tomb, the disciples—women and men alike—were disappointed because Jesus’ dead body was gone. I suppose there would have been a modicum of comfort in cleansing and spicing and wrapping a corpse—it looks like that’s what they were expecting. Instead, Jesus had a RESURRECTION. He undid death and its power, and he brought LIFE—so much more than what they could ever think or ask.
Do we ever get disappointed (even disillusioned) because God doesn’t answer our prayers in the same puny, insipid, unimaginative way we pray? Oh, bummer, the tomb is empty. I can’t clean up or anoint the dead body—when God is all about resurrection. He’s about creating new life. He’s about moving in ways that we could never envision. He’s all about BEING GOD.
It’s time to stop grieving over the empty tomb and start rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit who is on hand to transform and to resurrect. It’s time to kick out our starved imaginations and let God be God.
Father, open our minds and hearts to see you in your power and glory. Come with your resurrection life. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.