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. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Easter Sunday Morning
After the darkness of Good Friday comes Easter Sunday. When I used to get up in the morning in Plymouth, England, Easter morning would often be crisp and cold. There might be a little frost on the ground. Sometimes, especially when Easter was later in the year, it might be quite warm. I have memories, though, of Easter morning as a positive time of joyful praise at Underwood Chapel. We would sing songs of joy and pray with fervour, thanking God for all that he had achieved.
The empty tomb is the sign to the disciples that something remarkable has happened. Mary sees the stone is removed and then Jesus’ two closest disciples run to the tomb. The text is establishing eye witness accounts so that we may believe that Jesus did rise from the dead. The wisdom in the construction of the events would have seen like foolishness at the time. Mary Magdalene is a poor first witness in the culture of the time. She is a woman and she has a past. For ancient cultures an upstanding and important man would have seemed more credible. However, mentioning a woman in such a prominent role has given the story more credibility as it has come through ages of reform and rights for women.
Secondly, what did the two disciples believe? They believed the testimony of the woman. They were incredulous and what is happening in this scene is dawning on them slowly. Again, this sounds like real life. We know that Jesus comes to life in the story. They had prophesies and teaching from Jesus that delighted in metaphor. It is believable that they too were skeptical that Jesus really meant he would be buried and rise from the dead.
So, how do you respond to the empty tomb?
The tomb was empty, Jesus, and in a sense you were gone. However, you are now in a glorified state. I don’t know how to relate to this very well. You were a man walking the earth and now you are a man who is present everywhere. Help me to get a better grasp of the transformation that happened at the tomb.
- Who finds the stone rolled away?
- Why do the disciples run to the tomb?
- What did the disciples believe?
- How do you respond to the empty tomb?
- Who have you talked to about this miracle? How did it go?