17th April 2014

Empty (Almost) 

“’Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.’”
Mark 16:6 (NIV)

Have you heard the story of the teacher who as spring came, taught her class the story of Jesus, and then to emphasise the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life.”  The following day the children brought their eggs and the teacher opened them in front of the class.  In the first egg, was a flower, “Oh yes, a flower is a sign of new life,” she said.  The next egg contained a plastic butterfly. The teacher said, “We all know that a caterpillar changes and turns into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too.”  This went on around the class until the teacher opened an egg that was empty. She then proceeded to say this child could not have understood her instructions to place something in the egg representing new life. The child replied, “The egg is empty because Jesus’ tomb was empty when he came back to life.” 

The tomb where Jesus was laid was empty because he had been resurrected. I say ‘empty’, but actually the tomb was almost empty. Certainly Jesus wasn’t there because he had risen, but something else of significance was there: We read in John 20:6-8, “…Simon Peter…went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head…the other disciple…also went inside. He saw and believed.’ 

Now, why were the grave clothes left there? What was it that convinced John?  If robbers had stolen the body surely they would have stolen the clothes. They would have been in too much of a hurry to unwrap the body and then wrap the clothes up and lay them down so carefully. This would have indicated to John that the body had not been stolen. But perhaps something deeper was going on here. 

Leviticus 16 deals with the Day of Atonement picturing Christ’s atoning work on the cross. One goat was slain as a sin offering for the people, representing Christ’s death for us, and  the other goat with the sins of the people symbolically placed on its head was sent into the desert, representing Christ taking away our sins completely. But then notice when this was done, “…Aaron is to go into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there.” (V.23)  The leaving of Jesus’ garments in the tomb fulfilled this, and symbolised that the work of atonement for man’s sins was complete and finished. Powerful symbolism and evidence indeed, no wonder John looked into the tomb and believed, and so can we. 

Father, thank you that Jesus rose from the dead, demonstrating that his sacrifice was sufficient and accepted by you. In our unbelief help us to believe.

Study by Barry Robinson


barryrobinsonAbout the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove

Meeting time:
Saturday 11 am

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email:  barry_robinson@wcg.org.uk

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