Running to the empty tomb
I know…I’ve shared this story before. But every Easter I am reminded of my most memorable visit to the empty tomb of Jesus. My son, Cooper, was 12 years old and had joined Cyndi and me on one of our tours to Israel 14 years ago. Our hotel was within walking distance of the Old City and, on our last day, I persuaded Cooper to rise before the sun and join me on an early-morning walk to the Western Wall, one of the holiest places in Jerusalem.
After witnessing the sunrise and the prayers of the hundreds of Jews gathered at that site, we started back for the hotel. Then Cooper said, “Dad…do you think we could make it to Holy Sepulchre? (The church built on the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.)” I replied, “Only if we run! We can’t be late for the airport bus.” Cooper said, “Let’s do it!”
So, my son and I ran through the empty streets of Jerusalem, winding our way through the labyrinth of still-closed shops, until we burst into the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Minus the normal crush of tourists, we made our way inside and listened as early-morning worshipers praised Jesus outside the tomb that had vainly sought to hold him. In fact, the line into the tomb was so short, Cooper and I managed to get a peek inside!
On our way back to the hotel, we purchased a hot, pretzel-like bread and munched it as we walked, laughed and talked about the experience we had just shared…an experience I will never forget.
Even as I ran with my son, I was thinking about John’s account of that first Easter where Peter and John raced through the empty alleys to witness for themselves what Mary Magdalene had reported: Jesus’ tomb was empty! When they peered inside, for the first time, we are told, they believed what Jesus had been saying all along: that he had risen from the dead.
And nothing would ever be the same again.
I HOPE that you are as excited about reliving that eternity-changing moment as Cooper was that day! And, like Cooper, I hope that you will find someone else and say, “What do you think? Want to hurry with me to re-discover the empty tomb of Jesus?” Who knows; your simple invitation might become THEIR life-changing moment, too!
By the way, my Easter sermon will open with one of the funniest, craziest pieces of audio I have ever heard. You won’t want to miss it!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
P.S.—Just a reminder of our Easter service times: classic service is at 8:30, and modern services are at 10:00 and 11:30 am. Please make sure you come earlier than usual if you want to attend the classic service. And if you call Chapel Hill home, please consider attending at either 8:30 or 11:30 because we anticipate the 10:00 am service will be packed. We’ll live-stream our services as usual on our website and YouTube. Here’s a web page with all the pertinent information; you could also forward it to someone and invite them to church with you.