When Emptiness Means Everything (Mark 16:1-8)

emptyMark 16:1-8

What is the greatest fear of every person? Death. If we think we have been a bad person, we fear that we will be held accountable for the bad we did. If we think we have been a good person, we fear we did not do enough. If we do not believe in an afterlife, we fear we will be forgotten, so we seek to get our name on a building or to start a charity in our namesake or do something that no one will forget.

What is the greatest question of life: has anyone ever defeated death? Thus the quest for the proverbial fountain of youth. Though we ought to be grateful that healthcare extends life and enhances quality of life, we must admit its greatest motivators is the fear of death and the desire to conquer it.

What does a tomb represent? Death. What does an empty tomb represent? The conquering of death. This is what the women found on that first Easter morning. The stone had been rolled away. When they entered the tomb, they saw not the corpse of Jesus they sought to anoint with the funeral rite aromatic oil. Rather, the bench like pedestal Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus laid Jesus’ body on was empty, aside from some strips of linen. An angel told them what happened, “He is risen!”

The empty tomb shouts to us that Jesus conquered death. Not only did he conquer death, but he conquered it for you. If Jesus conquered our greatest fear, we can count on him to conquer every other fear: our fear of sinfulness, our fear of not being good enough, our fear of being forgotten. If Jesus conquered death, every other fear in life becomes more bearable.

Thus, the hymn sings, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow; because he lives all fear is gone,” and the poet penned, “With Thee Let me combine, And feel thy victorie: For, if I imp my wing on thine, Affliction shall advance the flight in me.” Because he lives, we can advance our flight over affliction that would otherwise permanently ground us.

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