There are times in life when we find something “empty,” and we are disappointed, upset or frustrated. We like to think more is better. So when we’re late for work and find our car empty of gas, we’re not happy. When we are hungry and find the refrigerator empty, we are disappointed. When our bank account is empty, we get anxious.
The word means vacant, void, blank, containing nothing. So when we hear phrases like “empty headed,” “empty your pockets,” “empty glass,” “empty life,” “empty words,” “empty look,” there is a bad connotation attached to the word.
The word “empty,” however, can take on an entirely new meaning when it is put in a different context. In one of the greatest stories ever told, an empty tomb is found, and instead of grief and sorrow at the discovery, joy and hope spread like a wildfire. Why was a simple empty tomb the cause of such celebration? What possible hope could come out of an empty grave?
Those who know the story know that Jesus of Nazareth made some astounding promises before He was brutally nailed to a cross to die. One of His promises assured His disciples He would rise from the dead on the third day after His death. If Jesus was able to keep this promise, it would ensure for all time that He was the Son of God, and anyone who believed in Him would be able to spend eternity with Him in His heavenly kingdom.
But such a promise seemed impossible especially after that horrible Friday when he died such a painful death. With His last breath, all hope seemed to fade away, and as they sealed Him in that tomb, hearts were broken and joy was nowhere to be found. It appeared the abundant, joyful life, which was promised, was sealed with the dead body in the tomb.
Then comes the really good part of the story. On the third day after Jesus’ death, something miraculous happened. As some women approached the tomb, they found the stone that sealed it rolled away. When they peered inside, they discovered ... it was “empty.”
Out of that dark, empty tomb hope and joy and promise flooded the world. With Jesus’ victory over death, everything was made new including all those who believed and will believe in Jesus. His promises were true and would be fulfilled. This meant no one was beyond hope. No one was too far gone, or too sinful to be reached. Everyone will have a chance to enter His Kingdom.
The empty tomb is a place where we can leave our past and be made new. It is a place of joy and light, full of hope for the future. The empty tomb is a reminder, if we choose to believe, we also will someday rise from this life and join our Savior who waits for us in His Kingdom.
For additional information, visit www.stchrischurch.org or call 281-332-5553.
The Rev. Dr. Tom Day is senior pastor of St. Christopher Episcopal Church, 2508 St. Christopher Ave. at FM 518 in League City.