As I was preparing to preach on the resurrection of Jesus Christ this week, I remembered the story I heard earlier this year about a man named Walter Williams. Just imagine opening the newspaper and reading this lead sentence: “Workers at Porter and Sons Funeral Home were preparing to embalm Walter Williams on Thursday when he moved.” Yep. Seems Walter’s pacemaker had stopped working temporarily, so the hospice nurse called the coroner. He came, examined Walter Williams, couldn’t find any vital signs, put him in a body bag and sent him to the funeral home. As they got him into the embalming room, he started kicking and moving. So they took him to the hospital. “The coroner said, ‘Mr. Williams’ family were rejoicing and “just in a state of shock” after learning of his recovery.”
That tells me two things. Number one, don’t get sick in Mississippi, whatever you do. Number two, when the one you thought was dead is now alive and well, you are going to rejoice and be in shock all at the same time. That’s the way it was for the women who went to the tomb on that great getting-up morning outside of Jerusalem in circa 33A.D. The stone they expected to see blocking the tomb, and that they were trying to figure how they were going to move…was rolled away. Surprise number one. Then, the body they expected to find, which they had come to anoint, was not there. Surprise number two. I love the angel’s question for the women as recorded by Luke: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” The truth is, they WEREN’T seeking the living among the dead. They were seeking the DEAD among the dead! But Jesus was not there. The tomb was empty. Not only that, the angel said that Jesus would meet them, and the disciples, in Galilee. Surprise number three. The tomb was not empty because someone had stolen the body. The tomb was empty because Jesus is alive.
Which begs the question: if it is true that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was crucified on Friday, just as He said he would be, and was raised from the dead on Sunday, just as He said He would be, what should we think about everything else that Jesus did and said? He said, for example, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”