John 19, 1-9
Something to read
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrapping lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Picture the scene: a woman in hysterics, trying to explain to two very confused men that Jesus has in fact disappeared. 'Robbers!' they think to themselves, 'Thieves! Bandits! How could they do this?' So they run, full pelt, to get to the tomb, one leaving the other in his wake.
And there they see it, an empty tomb. 'What on earth? How can this be?' they say to themselves. Yet the disciple whom Jesus loved looked at the linen wrapping that should contain the body of Jesus and believed. 'He has risen indeed!'
I wonder if I would be able to be like this man and see the empty tomb and simply believe. But that is what we are, in a sense, presented with nowadays really, isn’t it - an empty tomb. No physical body to see and touch and feel and prod to make sure it’s real.
We do not see Jesus’ physical body and we won’t until he returns again one day. Yet we as Christians still believe anyway - just like the disciple whom Jesus loved did, as he looked into the empty tomb.
I was brought up in a Christian family and Jesus Christ was always part of my upbringing. But as I grew up, it didn’t seem as relevant to me. So I let my faith slip away for a few years until one day, after a series of events leading up to this point, I found myself in a church service. There somebody told me all about how Jesus had to die and rise from the dead so we can be forgiven for our wrongdoings, so we could once again have a relationship with God, so that we can have eternal life even though we don’t deserve it, so that we can receive grace and mercy from God.
That night I said God, I believe. I can’t see you but I believe. I want to be your disciple.
I looked into the empty tomb and found mercy, grace and love. I didn’t have all the answers at that point - I have a lifetime with God that spreads into eternity to suss those out - but I knew that God loved me and that I was in relationship with Him and I was forgiven, and it can be the same for you, too!
Friends, Jesus is very much alive and well and ruling in heaven; not dead, rotting in a tomb. He loves you - so much so He died and rose again for you, just to be with you. If you are a Christian and you are reading this, I want to encourage you by just reminding you of the wonderful thing Jesus has done for you.
If, however, you are not a Christian and you are reading this, hear these words: 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not die, but have eternal life' (John 3:16). Do you believe?
So I finish with a lyric from a song that we sang on that night I became a Christian. 'He’s alive, death and hell have been defeated, He’s alive, and the grave has been denied, He’s alive, sin no longer has dominion, for the grave is empty, Jesus is alive!'
Something to do
If you have prayed the following prayer for the very first time I would encourage you to find a local church where you can learn more about Jesus, the Word of God and the bringer of life. But remind yourselves frequently that Jesus lives today and He loves you dearly.
Something to pray
Loving Jesus, I thank you that you came into this world so that I may be forgiven and have a relationship with you that lasts into eternity, that I may receive a love from you that can never be broken by anything in this world. Forgive me for the things I have done wrong that have hurt you and others.
Living Jesus, I want you to be at the centre of my life, helping me to live a life that is pleasing to you. In your precious name I pray. Amen.
Today's contributor is Joshua Norris, a URC minister to the joint pastorate of Halstead, Bocking and Castle Hedingham churches.