Sounds like bad news...but the tomb is empty! And that’s the Good News of Easter Sunday!
Our reason for hope is rooted in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can never merit our own salvation, so Jesus offered his own life in atonement for the sins of all humanity. The empty tomb means the darkness caused by our sins, yours and mine, is overcome by the light of Christ. The empty tomb means that our death was destroyed by his death, and our life is restored by his life.
Mother Nature seems to echo the Christ’s saving act. Trees that have been dormant all winter are coming alive with new leaves and fruit. Wilted flower beds are blossoming into an array of wonderful colors. That which was dead is made new. Just as the season of Spring is refreshes and reinvigorates, the Easter Season is restores our joy and renews our hope.
The Messianic promise was that God was going to do something really big that would liberate the people of Israel from their oppressors and bring about a new age in which the Reign of God would be firmly established.
They were expecting a royal savior who would arrive in full battle regalia. Instead, our savior arrived as an infant baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Few recognized him, and many wanted to put him to death.
When Jesus died on the cross, all human laws failed. Roman law condemned an innocent man. Even the moral law, written in every human heart, cried out "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
The first people to call themselves Christians are those who came to understand that the Messianic act that God had promised had taken place at Easter. God’s kingdom did not come at the end of time, but within time. History continued, but those who came to believe in Easter knew how history was going turn out. Because of this, Easter people realized they had to live differently...according to a higher standard, according to the Law of Love.
Still today, civil laws are inadequate to protect us from all injustice. Moral laws fail when we make bad choices and cooperate with evil. With so much suffering and corruption all around us, we are often left wondering whether there is any justice left in this world. Yet, when all other laws fail us, the Law of Love remains. When darkness seems to surround us, when the pain is overwhelming, the light of Christ gives us hope that a new and better life is just ahead.
As Easter people, we know that death is not the end of the human story. Jesus became man so that we might share in his divinity. In other words, His destiny became our destiny.
By the grace of his Resurrection, we now share a common dignity that elevates our humanity above all other creatures. We know there is more to life than living only for ourselves. We live in community, and the divinity within us urges us to help those in need, to forgive those who hurt us, and to love those who don’t deserve it. The empty tomb unites all repentant sinners – all of us – in communion with the One who saved us.
Hopefully, during Lent we made the effort to reconcile with those who have hurt us, and with those who we have hurt, so that on this Easter Sunday we can give each other a fresh start. This new beginning starts in the home, setting aside our jealousies, swallowing our pride, and softening our hearts.
The prophet Ezikiel assures that God never gives up on us. He sprinkles us with water to cleanse us of our sinfulness, and gives us a new heart and a new spirit. On this Easter Sunday, we find the tomb is empty and that all things are made new, fulfilling God’s promise when He says, “My love shall never leave you.”