Reconciling the Grave

Posted by on Mar 31, 2016 in Articles | 1 comment

It’s quiet.  Birdsong rides on the gentle breeze rustling the leaves.  The sun is a faint glow in the east, not yet ready to dawn the day.  The women speak in hushed voices, their whispers filled with sadness and longing.  “Who will roll the stone away?” they wonder.  “It’s too heavy for us.”


What is it about graveyards that make people whisper?  Those who reside in the tombs are sleeping eternal.  Voices won’t wake them.  Why is laughter or singing or normal speech avoided?  Is it out of respect or some kind of fear?  For the women walking through this particular cemetery, it is fear – not fear of the dead, but fear of the living, fear of soldiers, fear of arrest for being followers of Christ.


The ground shakes, startling the women.  The earth cracks, cries of fear and the sound of pounding feet break the quiet as the women rush to the tomb.  The soldiers who had been standing guard race past the women, fear pushing them forward.  The women cry out.  The stone door to the tomb stands open.  Their master’s body is missing.  “Who has taken him,” they wonder, and “why did the soldiers run away?”


The soldiers reach the temple, struggling to catch their breath, fearful of the punishment they will receive for leaving their post.  How will they explain what has happened?  How do they explain the two light-filled beings who snapped the ropes, broke Pilate’s seal, and rolled a stone away that had taken several soldiers to roll into place?  Who will believe what they saw?


Mary Magdalene sees the risen Lord with her own eyes.  She hears His voice, cries tears of joy, and runs to tell the others that their Lord is alive.  Peter, James and John race to see the empty grave for themselves.  Thomas refuses to believe.  “Unless I see his nail pierced hands and thrust my hand into his wounded side, I will not believe,” he demands.


Caiaphas instructs the guards to swear that the disciples overpowered them and stole the body.  He then threatens revolt if Pilate doesn’t punish the followers of the missing Jesus.  Pilate demands the body be found.  The search begins.  It begins where there is usually an end – at the grave.


Visitors to Christ’s grave see many things.  The guards saw angels of light, though they didn’t know what they were.  Mary saw a man she at first thought to be the gardener, but quickly recognized him as the risen Lord.  Peter, James and John saw an empty space, the grave clothes on the shelf, Jesus’ prayer cloth carefully folded and set to one side.  Caiaphas saw a threat to his rule over the religious, and Pilate saw a threat to Rome.  The centurion charged with finding his body saw a mystery.  They all saw an empty grave, a grave that once held a dead man, a man brutally crucified.  No one doubted his death.  No one doubted his burial.  What needed answering was, what had happened to his body?


Over the course of 40 days, 500 people saw him, alive.  Many doubted.  “Impossible,” they said.  “Dead men can’t pull themselves from the grave.  Only God can do that.”


Only God…


For over 2,000 years we have repeatedly visited the grave of the crucified Christ.  Not physically, but theoretically.  Was he a prophet, teacher?  Was he a criminal against Rome?  Was He just a man?  Or, was he who he claimed to be – the Messiah, Savior, God himself in human form?


The tomb is empty.  We must decide for ourselves what that means.  For believers, it means eternity with Jesus Christ, relationship with our creator and God.  But, it also means a life free of bondage and fear.  We are free in Christ, released from the tomb of our own shame and guilt.  We must throw open the door, break the cords and shatter that seal that holds us prisoner.  Each person must reconcile the grave for himself.  Will the grave be the end – or a beginning?


How will you reconcile the grave?

One Comment

  1. Such a wonderful and inspiring writing👍 Thank you, Eilee

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