Jesus’ Empty Tomb…
The morning after the Sabbath, Jesus’ followers approached the tomb to finish anointing His body (see Mark 16:1-2):
They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'” Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. -Mark 16:3-8, NAB
The fear of the unknown can be frightening. Jesus had predicted His Resurrection, but finding Jesus’ empty tomb was difficult to believe. And who was this young man sitting by the tomb? How did he know what happened to Jesus?
In St. Matthew’s Gospel, we are told that it was an angel sitting by the tomb (see Matthew 28:2-5). The presence of the angel alone must have been somewhat frightening to this group of unexpectant women. We can get scared by the tiniest mouse; imagine seeing an angel whose “appearance was like lightning” (Matthew 28:3)!
Jesus had spoken about His coming death and Resurrection to His disciples, but few wanted to accept it. Now that it was happening, they were left in disbelief. We, too, face similar challenges. Each week, we are reminded at Mass of Jesus conquering death, but it can be a difficult concept to grasp.
Instead of telling Peter and the disciples that they found Jesus’ empty tomb, as they were instructed, they chose to say nothing to anyone. The angel had frightened them. They were probably scared to be labeled lunatics. In essence, they panicked. They were told the truth, by an angel no less, yet they were too frightened to tell anyone.
If you have accepted Christ into your heart, you will have your moment in front of Jesus’ empty tomb where you will realize what has truly happened. Will you run and tell others what you have found, or will you panick – afraid to tell others what you have seen? We can ignore it in disbelief and fear, or we can accept that Jesus’ truly conquered death. Our mind tells us this is impossible; our heart and soul tells us otherwise.
At the threshold of Jesus’ empty tomb, we are given the choice to become a believer. You can step inside and give your heart to the risen Christ, or you can choose not to believe. You may be standing at that threshold right now. Jesus wants to know, do you believe?