Blog & Pastor Letters

Jesus, the Empty Tomb, and the Apostles

04-04-2021Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The long journey of Ash Wednesday has ended today with the celebration of Easter. Jesus is risen from the dead, he is no longer in the tomb, he is alive, and he lives forever! We can now sing alleluia for Jesus has overcome death against all the expectations of his executioners. They thought that he would be dead and forgotten, but he proved them wrong by rising from the dead to live forever. Imagine the heavy stone put at the entrance of his tomb to disallow anybody rolling it to steal the body. Yet the stone was rolled back, and nobody could explain how this happened, not even the soldiers guarding the tomb.

As I reflect on this day, I see the power of God working in the world through the redemptive action of the risen Christ. What would have been the nature of the world without the redemptive grace of Jesus? He gave his life for us to teach us that love can conquer hatred. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead gave the apostles the push to preach as witnesses. The Acts of the Apostles is a collection of the testimonies of the apostles when they began to explain their convictions about what they experienced of Jesus. Peter spoke thus, “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power . . . They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” The preaching of Peter was from the heart and from a deep conviction of what he experienced of Jesus in the past few days.

The empty tomb is the sign of God’s deep affirmation that He never left Jesus all through his agony. God decided to allow him to pass through humiliation and so raised him up and gave him a new life that no one can take again. The gospel says, “When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.” The empty tomb is a confirmation of all that Jesus kept saying, that the son of man must suffer grievously, be handed over to be crucified, but rise on the third day from the tomb. Indeed, the words of Jesus came to pass. The resurrection of Jesus gave birth to evangelism as the apostles preached that Jesus was not as dead but alive forever. The first person to witness the empty tomb was Mary of Magdala and she returned to alert Peter and John the beloved apostle. The call to discipleship is not the preserved for male folks alone. All genders are called by Jesus to preach the gospel of love to a sinful world that is drifting away from God.

The early preaching was in these words, “To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” But even today, that preaching has not changed. Everybody is invited to be an apostle of Jesus by preaching love during the hatred that polarizes our world. The resurrection of Jesus is a binding moment for all believers to rise and bring changes to the hearts of men and women yearning for eternal life.

The award-winning author N. T. Wright in Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, he writes, “The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.” As we celebrate the joy of the risen Christ, let us make it our duty to preach Jesus alive for all races including our enemies. Happy Easter!