Do you like mystery stories? When I was a kid, I loved to read mystery books. My favorite was Nancy Drew books. My friends and I would collect them and then trade with each other to share the books. At slumber parties, we would even read them. This week is a super special Sunday – Easter. We are going to hear the most exciting mystery story ever told. I call it “The Case of the Empty Tomb.”
The story begins very early in the morning on the first day of the week long, long ago. Jesus had just been crucified and buried in a tomb. (A tomb is like a cave.) Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ followers, went to the tomb where Jesus was buried. When she got there, she saw that the huge stone that had been put over the entrance had been rolled away. She ran and found Peter and John and said to them, “They have taken the Lord’s body from the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put Him.”
Peter and John raced to the tomb. John got there first. He looked in the tomb and saw the linen wrappings lying there. Then Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linens that John had seen lying there. As he investigated further, he saw the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded and lying apart from the other wrappings. After Peter looked around for a few minutes, John joined him inside. When they were sure that the tomb was empty, they left and went home.
Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she looked inside the tomb again and saw two angels sitting there. One of them was sitting at the head and the other at the foot where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Why are you crying?” the angels asked.
“Because they have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they have put Him,” she answered.
Then Mary turned and was about to leave when she saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him. “Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her.
Mary, thinking that He was the gardener said, “Sir, if you have taken my master away, tell me where He is so that I can go to Him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said.
When Jesus spoke her name, Mary knew who He was immediately. She turned to Him and cried out, “Teacher!”
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I have not yet ascended to my Father. “Go and tell My brothers that you have seen Me and that I am going to return to My Father and your Father, My God and your God.”
Mary found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them the message that Jesus had told her to tell them. And that solves “The Case of the Empty Tomb.” The tomb is empty because Jesus is not dead, He is alive! He is risen just as He said! He is still alive and living in heaven with His Father God. He watches over us even today.
Let’s say a prayer for this coming Easter Sunday. Heavenly Father, the empty tomb is no mystery to us anymore. He is risen! Jesus is alive and with You. He suffered, died, and was buried, but now is alive, so our sins could be forgiven. Thank You, and we rejoice in His name. Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church.