Last night I was doing some reading in John, and I was struck by something I had never noticed before. It was almost as though John was shouting at me through the pages to pay attention to something.
The passage I was reading was John 20:1-9 –
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
Did you catch it?
John uses the word “tomb” so many times in this passage. Yes, it’s clearly talking about the disciples’ investigation. But I think there’s more going on. John uses the word over and over again, when he really doesn’t have to. It’s as if he’s trying to tell us something – Look at the tomb. Conduct your own investigation. It matters.
There are some very good reasons why we should all take a close look at the tomb. Here’s just one. The cross loses its significance without the tomb.
Without an empty grave, Jesus was simply one of an unnumbered multitude of criminals who suffered the ultimate penalty on a Roman cross. But, by His resurrection – a fact necessarily implied by the empty tomb – he showed himself to be the unique and Divine Son of God, with power to raise those that trust in him spiritually (forgiveness from their sins) and physically (redemption of their bodies).
Thank God for the empty tomb. Have you ever looked at it? Have you looked at it lately?