It was the day after Sabbath, John’s Gospel tells us. It was still dark when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb with spices to anoint Jesus. We were not told if her devotion to Jesus had kept her awake the whole night. But we were told of her grief when she could not find Jesus. Mary wept. Deeply grieved at heart, she did not know what to do except to stand outside the empty tomb crying.

August 20, 2018 was the day I last saw my wife as her coffin was wheeled into the crematorium. After that, I could no longer see her and an empty seat follows me everywhere I go. Like Mary, I wept.

“Why are you crying?” the angels asked Magdalene. “Why are you crying?”  Jesus also asked. It was not a question of ignorance. It was not a question of rebuke. But it implied that there was something beyond the shedding of tears. Mary cried because Jesus was not there.  The tomb was empty.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” the angels asked Mary in Luke’s Gospel.  “He is not here.”  “He is not here”- a phrase that haunts the mind of a person who has lost a loved one. Empty tomb, empty seat.

But that was not the final word. “He has risen,” the angels continued. All of a sudden, “empty” became a word of hope. Tombs are for the dead, but an empty tomb means that Jesus has risen - He is alive! That is the hope and good news of Easter. Death no longer has the final word, for Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” (John 11:25).  And because an empty tomb means that Jesus is risen, an empty seat means that while the occupant is dead physically, he or she is now spiritually alive and with Christ.

This Easter I hear Jesus speaking gently to me, “Why are you crying?  Why do you look for the living among the dead?  She is not here; she is now alive with Christ.”

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

~ by Robert Lowry