The Garden Tomb just outside the walls of Jerusalem. This is one of two possible sites that is believed to be where Jesus was buried after his crucifixion. The evidence was compelling, but whether this was the true site or not, the tomb here at least provided a visual for where Jesus was buried on that first Good Friday.
After the story was recounted and the evidence was presented to us, we had a chance to look inside the tomb.
Above all else, the evidence that was most pronounced to me was that it was empty. When they discovered this tomb, this burial place had a pillow cut into the rock and the foot carved out – signs that it was a finished burial place. The one next to it, in contrast, had not been completed. Two burial places in this tomb, only one completed. It was prepared for someone, but it was empty. It was empty!
This completes the story. The punishment for our shortcomings is death. God loved us so much that He said, “Whoa, you all are in a predicament that you cannot escape on your own. Tell you what, I will take your punishment for you.” In the most awful death, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He was buried. Three days later, Jesus conquered death. He left us with an empty tomb and gave us a victory that we could never earn on our own. We don’t deserve it, but this victory is ours for the taking.
This grace and mercy, this unfailing love, this hope, this victory and promise of an abundant life…this is Easter!
(Here is one of the songs we sang in church this Easter morning.)