Scripture: John 20:1-18
This year we celebrate Easter Sunday in a very different way than what we are used to. Across the world, most churches are remembering Jesus’ resurrection via social media and the internet. It is true that many sanctuaries are empty and closed for public worship celebrations today. But, on this special day, Christians remember an even more important empty place. That empty place was Jesus’ tomb on Easter Sunday. It is out of its very emptiness that our faith was born. So, let us celebrate the Good News: He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!
In these days that are marked by the realities of the COVID-19 virus, we can feel like we are living in a dark tomb. We may not be able to meet with our extended families or go to our jobs or schools. We can’t praise and worship together as one in our sanctuaries. In many ways, this is a dark time, but there is hope. In our passage today, we see Mary Magdalene and the disciples facing a crisis that seemed impossible to overcome. With no sign or hope of life, Mary approached the tomb where she thought her Savior lay dead. To her great surprise, the tomb was empty. She encountered angels of light instead, and a gardener who revealed Himself to be Jesus! Her response was to run straight to the disciples, and tell them, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Because of Jesus’ undeniable presence, Mary’s hope was restored, and she became a steadfast witness. Ever since then, a great cloud of strong witnesses like us have seen Him too. We know that Jesus lives, and we also must go and share this good news!
Today, since we live in the light and truth of Jesus’ resurrection, we can look beyond the dark side of this pandemic and see things from a different perspective. With the eyes of faith, we can perceive that many people are now experiencing a spiritual awakening. We can see signs of new hope and resurrection. But, there are also many people who are living empty lives of lament, paying too much attention to the wrong that they hear. Negative thinking like this might cause them to become depressed. Our neighbors need to hear the good news that Jesus has Risen, and He is with them too.
You might know that I like to give a personal illustration in my sermons, something that applies my main point in real life. I want to do this a little differently today, and invite you to provide some personal applications here on the Facebook post in the comment section below. Would you simply finish this sentence: During this time of the Coronavirus, I have seen Jesus in _______________. Take the time to read each others’ stories. Maybe you could even click on the “like” or “love” buttons as your “Amen.” Let’s encourage each other with accounts.
Our Christian life is not confined to a place. Jesus lives in every believer’s heart and His touch of grace helps us to look at everything as Jesus sees it. Because of this, our lives are full, not empty. We can see many signs of life, in people, nature, and other places. All of this is possible because Jesus lives. Jesus defeated sin and death, and He includes us in His full victory. Therefore, during this long period, Christ’s church is waiting with joyful expectation to go wherever the Holy Spirit will take us, and to witness that He’s alive. Soon, the day is coming when we will gratefully return and be reunited with our Christian brothers and sisters. Our worship places will be full, God willing, and we will continue our mission in this world. We will embrace and include every sheep that isn’t in our Good Shepherd’s fold yet. Until then, stay steadfast in prayer, reading the Bible, and doing the best good you can do.
And remember what Paul says in Romans 8:35-37, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? And I add Corona Virus Disease?… nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All of this is true because Christ Jesus has Risen from the darkest and most empty place. He has brought us Light and eternal life. These are signs that He has Risen indeed. Hallelujah!