THE EMPTY TOMB is the central reason for our Easter celebrations.
BY GENERAL JOHN GOWANS –
Its vacancy shook the people who made their way through the garden to the place where the Christ had been buried–and it shakes us still. It all seems too good to be true.
We need to be reminded that Christ did not burst his way through the roughly-shaped circular stone door, smashing it to smithereens. He just was not there! The angel did not roll away the stone to let him “out.” Not at all. He had been “in” but he wasn’t “in” any more and that was that! The account tells us that the angel rolled back the stone and sat upon it with a kind of cheerful insolence. “He’s not here!” said the divine messenger. “Have a look!” It seemed important that the world should see just how empty the place was.
The message must have become crystal clear to his staggered disciples. The Master whom they thought was done for was up and about again–as ready as ever to comfort, to guide, to direct and correct, to help and to heal. Love was liberated. The rocky walls of his “container” could not contain him. What can one say but “Whoopee!” or, perhaps more appropriately, “Hallelujah!” Our world needs to know about this. Every Christian ought to stand by the door of Christ’s empty tomb and whisper or shout as may be appropriate: “He is not here!”
Ever since the Christ moved out of his grave, people have been trying to get him back inside. They have attempted to imprison him afresh–in history, in literature, in tradition–but in each case the cry rings out: “He isn’t here!” They try to wrap him up in the shroud of regimented religion and the angels must laugh as they sing out, “He isn’t here either!” Regular attempts have been made to bury him in the past but he is more modern than the latest revelation of way-out technology. Don’t look for him among dead things. You won’t find him there.
“Then where is he?” you ask. The simple answer is, “Everywhere!” His presence is totally unrestricted, as his disciples soon found out. He seemed to be everywhere at once and he still is. He is here with the fellow setting out for university and the girl going to her first job. He is here with the new mother cuddling her contented child. He is at the bedside of the seriously ill and on the road beside the recently redundant. He is here with the laughing crowd at the football match and, of course, at the Olympic Games. He is here with the lonely and the depressed and especially the bereaved, and a simple prayer will make this living, powerful presence felt.
He is the Christ of the human road. That’s why we wish each other “Happy Easter!”