“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Having said this, Jesus breathed his last. The women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. And Joseph of Arimathea took down the body of Jesus, and laid it in a tomb. The women who had come with him from Galilee, followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. All has come to the end. They have seen all what had happened on the cross and at the tomb. Now, it is time to return home to a former life which they have lived. But, before going back to the life in Galilee, is only one last thing left that they must to do for their dead Lord, which the living can do for the dead.
And, very early in the morning, the women come to the tomb, taking the spices they have prepared for the dead. But, they find the stone rolled away from the tomb. And they go in, but, they do not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They stand there, wondered, puzzled, terrified, and confused about this. “The body has gone! Where is the body? What happened? The body is gone!” They saw their Lord was buried and laid here. But, gone! Is it not the tomb where the body of the Lord was buried? No! They remember, they remember, this is the tomb. But Gone!
Suddenly, God’s angels come out from the darkness. “Why are you looking for THE LIVING among the dead? He is NOT HERE, in the tomb; He has RISEN!” They are so terrified and bow down with their faces to the ground. “REMEMBER what he said to you while He was still with you in Galilee, He said three times to you, that ‘the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again’.” He is going ahead of you to Galilee; where you will see Him (Matthew 28:7; Mark 16:7).” Then they remember his words, and return from the tomb to tell all these things to the disciples and to all the rest. But they do not believe these women except Peter, because their words seem to them like nonsense. They do remember that He was crucified, and died on the cross, and buried in the tomb. But, they do not remember what their Lord told them before.
They do not know, the tomb has been open empty, because they do not remember what Jesus told them and they do not believe in His words. “Did He say that before? Yes, he said. But, how? Is it real?” “What happened in between ‘then’ and ‘now’?” They do not know what happened in between the tomb occupied then and the tomb empty now. They do not know what was happening in between that Friday and this Sunday morning. They do not remember His words. Only full of fear, they locked not only their room door but also their inner door, only remembering His death, not His words. “What happened in between Good Friday and Easter Morning?” “What was happening during these three days?” They do not know. They have no idea. No explanation. It is beyond their capability to know and understand. Puzzled, terrified, unbelieving, and confused. This is their first response to the news of the resurrection. If we were there with them, yes, our first response would be the same with them.
But, the angels say to them, “See the tomb empty. And, remember what your Lord said to you! And tell others, the Lord is risen!” Watching the filed covered with snow, a farmer dreams a dream of a new coming season, because he remembers last Spring when plants pushed out new shoots from the frozen soil which looked dead.
A famer dreams because he remembers last Summer when the sunshine and the rain made them grow and grow. He dreams because he remembers last Fall when he came from the field, singing joyful songs and praising God. A farmer remembers what happened in last Spring. He remembers even though he is in winter, but he knows the Spring already has come to him and under the snow, and a new life is going out from the frozen soil. So, he dreams a dream of a new life, of a new heaven and earth. He is living the dream with the remembrance, and the dream becomes real in him, in his day by day living. He is living in the winter, but he is living in the spring too, because he does remember, and believe.
If they remembered, they would know that they did not need to hide in fear or to wander around the tomb in weeping and in despair, but they would wait for the risen Lord and join in this good news joyfully. When they remember what the Lord said to them, they come to recognize that their Lord has risen already and He is going to Galilee ahead of them to meet them. When they believe in him and his words, they come to know that their Lord has won already. The tomb has been open empty. And the tomb opens a new hope and new possibilities to them. With the empty tomb and with their remembrance of His words, their life will be changed. They won’t return to the former life anymore which they have lived before. They will live a new reality, a new order, and a new life of resurrection, under a new reign. There is no way back to their former life. They will go back to Galilee, but the Galilee which they are going to, wont’ be the same Galilee which they came from, but it will become a new Galilee where they will meet their risen Lord. And their families, friends, and neighbors in Galilee, will see them now transformed and reborn in the risen Lord. The people in Galilee will see their Galilee becoming and transforming into a new Galilee by those who remember and believe what the Lord said to them.
However, the story is not over. It’s just starting. Yes, a ‘old story’ is over. But a ‘new story’ just starting. A ‘new story’ already has started, but not finished yet. His Kingdom already has come, but not yet. The Kingdom, a new life and a new reign, is alive in God’s people’s remembrance of the Lord, and become real in their worshiping, praising Him, and seeing, touching, smelling, and eating the bread and the blood of Him, and practicing in everyday living what He told them and what He showed them in His living, teaching, healing, and His suffering and death. Every moment, when we, remember what Jesus told us, the new story is starting again and again.
Today, we, are called to be a witness to the empty tomb. We, are called to be a container of remembrance of the Lord, His words and His deeds. We, are called to live out the remembrance among our neighbors. There is no way back to a ‘old Galilee’, but a new way is open to us to a ‘new Galilee’. He calls us to a new Galilee. And, he is going to the Galilee ahead of us. Let us remember Him and His words. And remember His death, and His resurrection. Let us follow Him to the new Galilee to meet Him, and live the risen life with Him and in Him.
The tomb is empty! Praise the risen Lord! Amen.