Can you imagine what it would be like if, when we lose someone from our life or a thing, like a place or a job or an activity that’s deeply important, can you imagine what it would be like to lose them completely and to never remember them? Can you imagine what it would be like if we could bury all memory and experience with them?
No, I bet you can’t. We’re simply not capable of it. Excepting severe physiological disorders, I don’t think we can simply let go all the memories, experiences, learning and emotions. We’ve been changed. We remember. And in our remembering, we’re changed.
We want to remember. Even when we feel like we’d rather forget, that person or experience has become part of us. How we engage, manage, even embrace that is part of who and how we are.
The tomb is empty on Easter morning, not because the physical form of Jesus has been re-animated or resuscitated, but because everything that was and is Jesus is alive. All that Jesus is cannot be contained by death and burial. What more outrageous and radical way to show that than resurrection. The miracle isn’t just that the body isn’t there, but that the very spirit of Jesus - divine and human - is alive. Transformed, transforming and alive. What he showed in his living overcomes death and brings new life.
Life with Jesus was certainly eventful. The stories we have are probably just a fraction of what was possible. For Jesus’ followers, I can’t imagine there’s any moment they’d forget or let go of. And that last week, it had begun with such a hope-filled display of support, recognition even. And then it all crashed to a halt.
It all happened so fast, and though it might appear that Jesus either knew or anticipated what was happening, his followers certainly didn’t. Suddenly Jesus is dead, in the cruellest way imaginable. Most of them ran away in fear to hide, both for their safety and their grief. Some stayed, especially the women, baring their grief without fear or shame.
Death with Jesus was certainly eventful. And then there was nothing until the third day. But wait a moment, this isn’t just a chronological measure, it’s the Sabbath. The expanse between death and new life isn’t about hours or days, it’s about the time we rest from earthly things so that we can spend it with God. That might feel different for each of us, that sabbath time, even like it’s all the time in the world.
In the biblical accounts, the women were the first to know it, the same women who stayed with Jesus and watched him die. The closest disciples followed, when they saw him, and soon the word was getting out. Even today, it takes some longer to see than others, each of us at our own pace.
Our lives are certainly eventful, full of people, places and things that come and go, beginnings and endings, change and transformation, doubt and fear and so much more. Just like Jesus. The empty tomb reconnects us to the life of Jesus and that thing that we always believed was peculiar to Jesus, but is really the one thing that we all have in common: there is this thread that connects all things, a spirit of life that is both divine and earthly, and death cannot overcome it.