When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
– I Corinthians 15:54
We are living through a time of great suffering. There is much death, disease and disabling physical ailments all around. But there is also not a better time for the message of the Empty Tomb.
The Empty Tomb doesn’t just say that one day we’ll go to heaven and get compensated for our loses here on earth. No. The message of the Empty Tomb is God’s promise that He is going to renew this material world. The message of the Empty Tomb stands against the thinking that one day the soul will be liberated, and we will live in some ethereal bodiless afterlife.
Notice what St. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians: ”When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” Paul does not write that the perishable will put on the immaterial. He writes that the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable. This means that our future is more physical not less. That is the message of the Empty Tomb. The Resurrection (coupled with the Incarnation – God made Flesh) is proof positive that this present world matters!
The physical resurrection of Jesus and his eternal possession of a physical resurrection body gives clear affirmation of the goodness of the material creation that God originally made. In other words, with the Empty Tomb, God is once again proclaiming over His creation that It is good! This means that our ordinary everyday life is also being redeemed—even if we don’t always see it. Good food and soft chairs by the fire, and hugs and dancing, and holidays by the ocean, along with peace, joy, social justice, and all that we long for in this world, God loves it too! In fact, He loves it so much that He gave His only begotten son so that this world could be redeemed and made perfect.
That’s what The Empty Tomb is all about. What do we think Jesus meant when he said pray this way: Thy Kingdom come thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. The Empty Tomb is the first great answer to that prayer. The living God did not shun this real world but came into the very thick of it, hugging unwanted children, forgiving prostitutes, dining with the lowest of society, saving wretches like you and me and getting his hands dirty in acts of mercy, blessing, and love. These acts of mercy were so real and so deep that they could not be crushed by death itself. The Empty Tomb is God’s great guarantee that, at the end of the day, beauty will not be sullied, truth will not be denied, goodness will not be overcome, and pandemics will not have the last word. That’s the message of the Empty Tomb, and that’s what we celebrate this Easter.
When we allow that message of amazing grace to fill our hearts and challenge our minds, we will respond like the disciples on the First Easter. We will run to tell people about the Empty Tomb, and when we run, we will feel God’s pleasure. Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!
Dr. Dave Lescalleet serves as the Director Chaplaincy for PruittHealth.