April 9 – The Empty Tomb (Easter Sunday)
by Dr. Darrell Gwaltney
Read: The Empty Tomb (Mark 16:1-8)
Key Verse: “Don’t be alarmed,” he told them. “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they put him” (Mark 16:6).
The week before Easter Sunday morning had been tumultuous and filled with one heart wrenching experience after another. From Palm Sunday all the way to the sadness of the Crucifixion on Friday, the followers of Jesus had moved from the heights of joy and expectation to the depths of sorrow and despair. Saturday must have been an absolutely terrible day for them as they gathered deeply into their hearts the death of Jesus.
The Gospels each suggest the eleven disciples were nowhere to be seen, likely concerned about what would happen next to them and to their movement, but they do tell us it was the women who went to the tomb early in the morning hours of Easter Sunday.
This should not surprise us. They were with Him at the end, and they came to tend to his body on the morning after the Sabbath. I often try to imagine their complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion on Easter morning as they made their way to the tomb. Mark 16:3 reminds us that they went to the tomb even though they had no idea how they would be able to minister to Jesus’ body. Nothing would stop them from going to Him.
Throughout all my life, I have gained strength from the women who have showed up beyond their exhaustion and despair to serve others. We can learn from these women at the tomb on Easter morning and gain strength from the women among us.
It was their love for Jesus that drew them to the tomb despite the sorrow or weight in their hearts. Mark tells us they were astonished at what they learned and a little afraid as they walked away, but let us remember they came to the tomb that morning.
The other gospels tell us more about how they chased down the disciples so they would know about what they had seen, but we learn that the women were the first witnesses of the resurrection. They came to the tomb deeply in grief and they walked away astonished at how their world had changed.
From these women we learn that whatever weight we carry in our lives, we can come to the empty tomb this Easter morning! We can meet the witnesses who have seen the risen Lord! We can rejoice and know Jesus has risen from the grave and all things can now be made new! He is Risen, Jesus Christ the Lord!