John 20:6-9 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths 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 know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
If you want to understand Easter, the first thing you need to realize is that Easter was not designed or created by man, it unfolds according to God’s plan. To see how this works, consider the question: How do you tell when something is really here?
If someone were to ask, how do you know Spring is here, we might answer – spring is here when the Robins return, and then once they get their feet wet 3 times, it’s spring. There was an old tradition about Christmas, that you knew it was Christmas, when you looked in the manger, and baby Jesus was there. So Easter arrives with the very simple message, the tomb is empty, Jesus isn’t there. Easter doesn’t arrive as the answer, that is complete – but it almost arrives in the form of a question – The tomb is empty, where is Jesus? And we are left to think about that question before we here the rest of the story.
So where is Jesus? The answer to that question really depends on what you know, we already know the rest of the story, and sometimes we miss the drama, the tension, the excitement. So I’d like to ask you to pretend that your are one of the disciples – what do you know?
You see, that is the real question. What do you know? Now they should have known what Jesus had said – he had told them several times that he must go to Jerusalem where he would be betrayed, killed and on the third day rise. In many ways we are a lot like children, we hear things many times, but it doesn’t really sink in, we don’t really know it, until we make it our own. Its like the things we memorize in confirmation class, most of the time we learn them well enough to recite them – but we don’t really know them, until they become part of us – that often happens when we trust them, and they help us – then it has become part of us – then we really know it.
That’s the way Easter works – Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb early, the stone is rolled away, and the tomb is empty – she jumps to the wrong conclusion, they have taken the Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him. Peter and John respond to this puzzle, they run to the tomb, it is empty – well, almost,…. The shroud is still there, but Jesus isn’t – they know that while the tomb is empty, its not because someone took Jesus body away – it must be something else, because no one who would take a body, would first take the time to remove the shroud.
The story of Easter grows as it unfolds, if the tomb is empty, and the shroud is still in the tomb, then Jesus must be risen – and for time present we have to accept it by faith – that is we remember the words we have heard, and rely on them – and it becomes part of us. Later we will see the Risen Savior and be certain of what we had first come to learn by faith.
Easter is a great example of what it means to be growing in the word – you can hear something many times, but its when you really trust in it, rely on it – only then does it really become part of your – only then do you really know it.
Easter is also a great example of the power of the word, God had it written in such a way so that we would keep thinking about it – that is, that as we were thinking about it, the Holy Spirit would be working in us, to create faith where the was none, and to build up faith where there was some – the Word is always working so that we might come to know the love of God which is ours in our risen Savior Jesus Christ. And knowing the love of God which is ours in Jesus Christ, that we might have forgiveness of sin, peace with God and everlasting life.