Empty, but Full
Updated: Oct 31, 2019
What do you see when you look into an empty box?
That would be the first thing that would pop out of my mouth if a package arrived from Amazon and I opened it to find it empty. “What did you get, Father?” “Nothing. I got nothing. The box is empty.”
But the box is not empty. It’s full of air. In fact, it is still a full box. It might not be full of the expectations that I placed on it, but it is full nevertheless. It’s like the “half-empty or half-full” glass of the proverb. Both the optimist and the pessimist are wrong about it. It’s not “half-anything.” It is full of water and air.
What did the disciples see when they came to Jesus’ tomb that first Easter? Nothing? The tomb was empty – at least, it was empty of Jesus, whom they expected to be lying there, dead and wrapped. However, the tomb was not truly empty. There were the burial cloths, even if there was no Jesus. To say that the tomb was “empty” would have been inaccurate; but to say that it was “sorta-full” was also incorrect. The truth of that matter was much more wonderful.
Jesus was not there; because He had risen!
The empty tomb is the first sign of the Resurrection. Mary, Peter, and John all went to that tomb with their expectations. They knewwhat they were going to find, and no one could change that – no one but God, that is. The first reaction to this emptiness is worry and fear. Mary runs to the others and shared her experience of disappointment and the frightening news that He was not there. Peter and John ran to see themselves and found the same problem; even seeing it, “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”
But that empty tomb was far from empty. Beyond the physical reality, it was full – even more full than any of us could imagine. As Peter and John peered into the darkness of that empty tomb, they were peering into a new reality – a whole new world – a world that Jesus Himself had promised them, even if they could not fully grasp it. That tomb was full of New Life – it was full of God’s new fulfilment of His ancient promises.
This is the God whom we stand before today. This is our Easter experience. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! Now, we are offered the same gift – the gift of that empty tomb. What do we receive? Nothing? Far from it!
Today, we receive the gift of new life – the reminder that even the darkest night is followed by the dawn. That even in the world full of suffering, sorrow, and death, God’s promises are kept, and we are brought to the new life of heaven through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is what Easter is all about.
The glass is not half-empty; it is not half-full. It never is! Just so, that tomb is not empty either. It is full of the new life that we also have received through our Baptism. We share Christ’s victory over death, because we have died with Him. We rise to new life – not at some later time, but now. This is our new life and we will live forever because Jesus has first risen and given that gift to us.
There is no joy like this. This is what we should be proclaiming every day for the rest of our lives. Awaken our brothers and sisters to the fact that life is never half-full, half-empty, or half-anything – it is fuller than we can ever imagine because we now share in Christ’s gift of salvation and eternal life. Let that be your story from now on.
What do you see when you look into an empty tomb.
You see hope. You see God’s love.
You see Easter.