The Promise of the Empty Tomb

The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.  Acts 4:33 (NLT) 

Have you ever wondered what it must have been like for Mary Magdalene, the other women, John and Peter to see that empty tomb on Easter morning? Can you imagine the thoughts that must have been going through their heads? “Why is the stone rolled away?” “Where is the body?” “Who took him?” “What’s happening?” They did not understand what was going on and did not remember what Jesus had told them.

Each of the people who went to Jesus’ tomb early on that Resurrection Day, had different reactions to what they saw. At first, they all thought it was a story, a tall tale, impossible to believe. When the women returned to them with the news that Jesus’ body was gone, both Peter and John ran to the tomb to check things out for themselves. They both saw that Jesus’ was no longer in the tomb. They both saw the strips of linen and the burial cloth lying there. The gospel tells us that John saw the facts and immediately believed. (John 20:9) Peter saw the same thing but was still puzzled about what had happened. (Luke 24:11) The women were afraid and confused. (Luke 16:8)

Mary Magdalene was the first to truly believe. But even she didn’t recognize Jesus at first. It wasn’t until He spoke her name that she finally believed that He had truly risen from the dead. Yet when she ran to tell the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” they still thought it was just a fairy tale. It wasn’t until He appeared among them, until He showed them his hands and side, until He opened their eyes to His fulfillment of the scriptures, that they came to truly believe.

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!  John 20:19-20 (NLT) 

It’s like this for people who hear about the resurrection and the hope that Jesus offers. Sometimes it takes a while to believe. At first, they might scoff at the idea and think it is just a good story. Even when they check out the facts for themselves, like Peter, they may still have confusion and doubt. It is only when they come face to face with Jesus, when He opens their eyes and hearts to His life-giving message, that they can truly believe.

Sometimes this is what it’s like for the ones we pray for, like your mom or dad. At first, they can’t or won’t believe that the Lord can touch and change their lives and the lives of their family. They may think that they cannot be forgiven or that they don’t deserve to be forgiven. Some of them might not even know that they need to be forgiven. But as we continue to pray for them, the Lord continues to work on their hearts, opening their eyes to His love and their ears to His promises. It is only when they encounter Jesus face to face, that their spiritual eyes and ears are opened and they can see the truth.

As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”  Luke 24:30-32 (NLT) 

This is why we pray for our dad or mom and for others. Our prayers are what can take an unbelieving, confused and doubting person from disbelief to belief; from restlessness to peace; from “What happened?” to “I believe.” Let’s pray for those we love.

“Dear Jesus, I know that You rose from the grave that Resurrection morning so that we may have forgiveness of our sins and a way to eternal life. I pray that You will roll away the stone so that my family can see the promise of the empty tomb. I pray that my mom/dad will come to believe in Your life-giving power. I know that nothing is too hard for You to do and I am trusting that You are working on their heart each and every day. Thank You Jesus for loving me and for loving my family. In Your precious name I pray. Amen.”

God bless

A Stander in Nebraska

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