This Easter, I asked, as I usually do, the infamous Easter question: “How do we know the tomb was empty?” That question comes from Rev. Doug Dunn at St. Luke’s, Denver, and is a question one of his seminary professors asked of the class when Doug was at Nashotah House many years ago. I would imagine many of us have asked ourselves the same question in one form or another.
This year, I added another statement regarding the tomb that one of my seminary professors had stated in the first theology class we took the very first semester we were at Sewanee. Joe Monti was that professor, and Joe stated, “the tomb was not empty, the body of Jesus was there, or at the very least had been stolen away.”
Both of these, a question and a statement, really have the same answer. And, the answer to both at the time it happened really doesn’t matter to us anyway. You see, the answer to the question, and the reasoning behind the statement is, “because we experience the risen Christ in our lives today” and we do! In so many ways in our everyday lives we find and experience Jesus: in our relationships, our jobs, our schooling, our play and especially in our worship. Sometimes we look for the risen Lord Jesus intentionally, and other times we stumble upon His presence when we least expect it. In either case, looking for or surprised by, Jesus is there. Thankfully!!!
Oh, I realize that saying the body was in the tomb, or just stolen, implicating that Jesus was dead and stayed dead, is going against scripture, and I do fully believe the bible—Jesus did rise from the dead. However, what I’m getting at is it really does not matter what happened two thousand years ago— the tomb empty or not— what matters more is what’s happening in our lives now, today.
I suspect it might be correct to say we are still looking for that body, and it might be more correct to say we are finding what we are looking for. Remember back to Mary’s story of coming to the tomb and finding it empty, only to see what she thought was the gardener standing there watching her? And when he spoke her name, “Mary” she knew it was Jesus calling her. Mary went looking for the body and found the risen Lord, and it is a search that still goes on to this day. We look for Jesus at church. We look for Jesus in our loves and in our livings. We look for Jesus when we volunteer at St. Clare’s or donate to the food banks. We look for Jesus whether we realize we are looking or not, but we still find him. That’s because Jesus is in our lives today and always. Keep an eye out, open your ears, and look-and-listen for the risen Lord in your life, he is there. He will call you by name, and like Mary, you will know him for He is yours.
Easter Blessings, Jim+