Santa Clarita Signal • Ethically Speaking Column • For Sunday, April 5, 2015
(Image courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net
Empty and Full
David W. Hegg
One day I’d like to ask those women just what they were thinking as they made their way in the early morning to the place where, just days before, they had watched him be buried. They watched as his body was hastily wrapped in linen and put in a tomb hewn from solid rock. They watched as a huge stone was rolled over the opening, and the Roman guard sealed the tomb with the official seal. It was preparation day and Sabbath was beginning. Proper preparation of the body would have to wait.
On the first day of the week the women rose early and found their way back to the tomb, bringing the ointments and spices necessary for a proper Jewish burial. And I wonder what they were thinking.
Certainly they were filled with sadness and discouragement. They were probably confused as well. After all, they had followed this man for a year or more, had seen his miraculous acts and been transformed by his teaching. And now he was dead, and gone, along with their hope that God’s promise of Messiah was fulfilled in him. The spices they carried were their last act of honor towards him, or so they thought.
They were full of sadness until they saw the empty tomb. And they were later to recognize the empty tomb as the reason they could experience fullness of life.
Empty and full. Today all over the world those who follow Christ celebrate the empty tomb and the fullness of life that is possible now that death has been defeated. Our lives are full of hope and purpose and joy, even in times of adversity, because the tomb was empty and Jesus is alive.
Growing up in Spokane, Easter Sunday was a community event. Everyone went to church, and songs and celebration of Jesus’ resurrection dominated the day. Today things are different. Those who truly follow Christ, and demonstrate it in the way they live and love, are a minority today, and it is much smaller than we like to think.
Christianity is no longer a majority view in America. We are a minority, with stories of societal persecution growing in number. We are a minority, but we will be a prophetic, conspicuous minority that can’t be disregarded.
Why? Because we increasingly see the emptiness of the world around us. It is increasingly empty of virtue, of common sense, and of truth. We also see empty lives ironically filled with all that money and selfishness can provide. We see empty promises being proffered by ethically empty politicians who honestly think their messianic charisma will lead us all to the promise land of health, wealth, and happiness. But there is a pervasive feeling of emptiness all around. And it is growing.
Yet, there is an answer. The resurrection of Jesus the Christ stands as the pivotal event in history, and despite centuries of attempts to undermine it, its historical validity has never been diminished. (If you’re an honest skeptic, and will risk having your mind changed, read The Case for the Resurrection by Lee Strobel). His resurrection was the exclamation point on Jesus’ life and his redemptive mission. It validates all he claims to be, and grounds all he can do for us in reality and hope.
We often believe what we want to believe because it makes life easier. Sometimes we believe what we are required to believe because it makes relationships easier. But there is a time to believe something because it is true in a non-controvertible way.
In the case of the resurrection of Jesus, an ethical approach to life leads me to say you should want to believe it, God requires you to believe it, and an honest look at the evidence will compel you to believe it.
But best of all, a faithful acceptance of the empty tomb and all it signifies will bring a fullness to your life that you won’t find anywhere else, and one you can never lose. Empty and full. Today’s a day to think it through.