Tag Archives: Empty Tomb
A little boy, growing up in a village where his father was the local minister was outside playing. He was doing all of the things that a little boy does. He was climbing trees. He was swinging on the swing set and jumping out. He was rolling and playing with his dog. His mother called him for dinner and all of the family gathered at the table. His mother looked at him and said, “Young man, let me see your hands.”
There was some rubbing of his hands on his blue jeans before he held his hands up. His mother looked at them and asked, “How many times do I have to tell you that you must wash your hands before you eat? When your hands are dirty, they have germs all over them and you could get sick. After we say grace, I want you to march back to the bathroom and wash your hands.”
Everyone at the table bowed their heads and the father said grace. Then, the little boy got up and headed out of the kitchen. He stopped, then turned and looked at his mother and said, “Jesus and germs! Jesus and germs! That’s all I ever hear around here and I haven’t seen a one of them.”
Our hands can be an identifying characteristic. As you know, every one of us has a different set of fingerprints. (and that’s true apparently even of identical twins) We are all different, yet we can be identified by our hands. And the same was true for Jesus. On that first Easter, Peter and John gathered with the other disciples in that upper room to talk about the empty tomb and the possibility of the resurrection.
As they were talking, Jesus came and stood among them. They were frightened, but Jesus reassured them by showing them his hands and feet. How often had the disciples seen those hands of Jesus touch blind eyes so they could see?
How often had they seen his hands bless little children? How often had they seen him reach out hands and lift the cripple up and say, “Walk.”? They saw the hands of Jesus and they knew that he was resurrected from the dead.
The hands of Jesus remind us of his suffering – and they remind us of his love.
In the 1930s, there was particular a man who was an engineer.
He had built up a good business in London, but his main interest was lay preaching.
One day, in the course of his ‘day job’ he had to visit the railway works at Swindon where the great locomotives were built.
A young manager showed him round and after a tour of inspection, the two men walked to the gate of the factory. There they stood for a few minutes chatting, and then the visiting engineer thanked the young manager for showing him around.
Then he stretched out his hand to say goodbye. The young man also stretched out his hand.
Almost immediately the engineer dropped it – the younger man’s hand was such a cold, fishy sort of hand.
Quickly he realised his mistake for the other man looked embarrassed.
The young manager then explained that when he had become an apprentice he had met with an accident. A nail was driven through my hand, he said, and I’ve never been able to close it since then’
The engineer gently laid his hand on the young manager’s shoulder and said:
Nineteen hundred year ago there was a young carpenter in Nazareth. They drove a nail through his hand, and he too has never been able to close it since!
Some years ago when I was a Parish Minister, I happened on this particular occasion to be at the western General Hospital in Edinburgh visiting my new parishioners
I went to see Mrs Bloggs. I located the ward and the bed. “Hello, there, Mrs Bloggs, and how are you feeling today? “Not so bad, thanks, but I’ve got a bit of pain…about here” and she indicated her abdomen, and then proceeded to go into what I think can only be termed as very personal and indeed private, if not intimate detail about the effects of her recent surgery.
I was getting a bit hot under the dog collar by this time, and especially when she said that she would like to show me her operation scar.
“I think I’d better get a nurse, Mrs B”
“Right, DOCTOR” she answered
That’s when the penny dropped. DOCTOR a case of mistaken identity.
Needless to say, I made my excuses and left.
Mistaken identity. It happened on another occasion, back in the 1970s. I called upon this elderly lady, who opened the door, and said “I’ve been waiting in all day for you to come and convert me” A strange kind of remark
“It’s over here” she added and showed me a cupboard where the gas meter was situated.
“Have you not brought any tools with you?” she then asked.
Perplexed I was thinking ‘what tools?’ a bible? maybe a communion kit?,
And then the penny dropped – no, it clattered. She thought I was from the gas board and had come to covert her supply to the then new North Sea gas!
Let’s pause for a moment and think about these two incidents – in the hospital, the patient has been expecting to see a doctor; perhaps it was the time when he did his rounds – hence the mix up.
In the other case, the elderly lady had been anxiously waiting all day for the gasman to come; no doubt, she was a bit flustered; maybe her eyesight wasn’t as good as it could have been. She was expecting someone else – not a minister, even although I was wearing my collar; so…. when I turned up on her doorstep: Behold the Gasman cometh!
On that first Easter morning, Mary Magdelene went to the rock tomb where Jesus has been buried on the Friday, having been taken down from the Cross.
She was in a highly emotional state. She certainly wasn’t thinking straight.
The person in whom she had put her trust had been put to death. That was fact. Dead & buried.
Then, coming to the tomb early in the morning of that Easter day, she finds the stone rolled away. She tells Peter and John of her discovery; they run ahead of her to assess the situation.
Mary goes back herself, standing outside the empty tomb weeping.
We’re told that she sees angels who talk to her and ask her why she is crying.
This is an obviously emotionally charged situation. This poor woman is confused and disorientated.
And even although the signs are all there – the empty tomb – the angels (a sure symbol of divine activity) , her expectation level is low – the last person she would possibly hope to encounter is Jesus.
But she’s in a garden. Who else but the gardener should approach her and speak to her “Woman, why are you crying?” He may have looked like Jesus, and sounded like Jesus – but Mary, her eyes blinded by tears, her mind confused, expecting to see a gardener, sees a gardener. And thinking that he is the gardener, she asks him where they have put the body of Jesus.
But then he speaks her name, “Mary!”, and she knows…she knows.
Mary was seeking a dead Christ on Easter morning.
So do so many many others so often.
They say that he was a good man or a good teacher, a guru or a prophet…..but long since dead and gone. They do not realise – do not want to acknowledge that our Christ reigns forever. He goes unrecognised.
But he is alive! And once we know that, we see all the glory…..and like Thomas later in the Easter narrative, we too can say of him and to him “My Lord and my God”