Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. [Luke 24:1-3 CEB]
If you just stop here at the end of Luke 24:1:3, you will be left hanging. Perplexed. The women go to the tomb on that Easter morning to take spices they have prepared to properly bury Jesus. But when they get there, they find that the tomb is empty. Jesus’ body is not there. Gone. What happened to Jesus?
It might be a thought-provoking exercise to just pause at this point in our reading of the Easter story and contemplate an empty tomb. Yes, we have the advantage of reading the rest of the story in the Gospel of Luke, which gives us a grand picture of the message of the Easter story. We observe the reactions and the reflections of the disciples, the two men on the road to Emmaus, and others as they sort through the events of the last few days and come to the grand realization of the risen Christ. We follow along with them and fathom everything through them.
But if it is possible, let’s push aside that we may already know what happens next and just stop after verse 3 to ask ourselves, “What about the empty tomb?” “What does the empty tomb mean to me?” Is empty a good thing or a bad thing?"
I read an article in Homiletics Online that explains it this way. Given a choice, we may say that full is always better than empty. Think about it. "Full" is good. A marriage full of laughter and love? Good. A full bank account? Good. A full stomach? Good. Children full of respect and manners? Good. Full church on Sunday? For us pastors, that's good.
A person who is "full" is one who's able to look at her or his life and say, "Every need is met, every fear is silenced, and every obstacle is overcome." Most would say, "That's what I want. That's what I'm aiming for!"
But let's be terribly honest. If we believe that we're complete, that our lives are as they should be, then this day, this message, this reality of the resurrected Jesus Christ just isn't for us. Here's the deal: Easter isn't for full people. It isn't for the "have-it-all-together-life-is-good" people. No, Easter is for empty people. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is for those who've figured out that in this life, "full" is a fleeting feeling.
Some of us have felt the emptiness of losing someone close. Others know what it's like to have your health fading or your family fighting. Let’s be honest, we all have to admit to experiencing one or more of the following: a prayer that's unanswered, a depression that's lingering, a faith life that's stagnant, a marriage that's struggling, or a future that's uncertain.
We all know what it feels like to be empty. And the good news is that for all of us who fall into that category, we are the ones Easter is for. Easter is not for full people. Easter is for empty people.
There are two types of people in this world—empty and full. Which one are you? Empty isn't a bad thing. An empty tomb means Jesus is alive. Emptiness in your life simply means you're the one Jesus rose for, and you're ready to receive all that He has to give.