The Corrective Lens of the Empty Tomb

 Love wins! 

That is the reason for the season, friends!

This is the point of this day, this Easter day.

Hatred and violence had their day. Friday was fueled by sin, by the evil of ending innocence, crucifying compassion and destroying love. Friday saw God, Love itself, killed, saw the lover of all humanity, mocked, scorned, nailed to a cross, murdered, martyred.

Saturday, this lover of all went to the darkest depths, to the underworld and to the epitome of suffering.

But today, all that’s finished. He has risen, raising us up in the process.

Love has won the final victory. 

The ultimacy of death itself has died. The eternity of life is today born.  

Might I ask you a question this morning? How do you look at the world? Do you look at the world through the lens of the cross? Or do you look through the world through the lens of the empty tomb? 

What do you mean by those questions, Rev Don? What does it mean to see the world through the lens of the cross or through the lens of the empty tomb?

Well, normally, as linear people who look forward from one point in time to the next point in time, we start with the Cross, and with the Cross in mind, we then move to the Empty Tomb. We move from point A in time to point B in time. That is fine. 

In fact, we can’t ignore seeing the world this way. The cross was real and wrong and unjust. We must not sanitize the injustice of the cross by saying it was in the end a good thing. 

I remember when I was maybe 11 and I sat in for an adult Bible study. They were talking about Jesus’ crucifixion and how it related to human salvation. I asked a big question that was on my mind. I asked, if we needed Jesus to die to be saved, weren’t those people who nailed him to the cross doing a good thing? That seemed to stump a lot of people. It is a great question, if I might say so myself.

The answer can’t be yes. Nailing someone to a cross and killing an innocent person is never a good thing. It might be unavoidable, as it was with Jesus, but never was it an ultimate good, never good in and of itself.

The cross gave way to the empty tomb. Without the empty tomb, the cross is simply an antiquated vestige, a old form of Roman execution. 

As Christ-followers, we are an Easter people. We see the world through the lens of the empty tomb. And that lens of the empty tomb is a corrective lens. It helps us to see the world anew, transfigured by the grace of God.

Looking through the corrective lens of the empty tomb, we see that the horror of the cross does not have the final word! Seeing the world through the corrective lens of the empty tomb means seeing the cross’ harsh reality but knowing that in the end good triumphs over evil, peace overcomes war, nonviolence defeats violence, and love conquers hate. Seeing the world through the corrective lens of the empty tomb means seeing that the hell of death is not the ultimate end and that the heaven of eternal life ultimately awaits. 

Easter changes everything my friends! 

As I come to a close, seeing the world through the corrective lens of Easter, has personal ramifications. Consider the personal witness of Peter.

Before the empty tomb, Peter faced a life of guilt, regret, grief never to go away. He denied his Lord and fled the scene at Jesus’ darkest moments. In the wake of this, Peter wept bitterly, scripture says. Without the empty tomb, these bitter tears, what would they mean for Peter going forward? Thankfully, the empty cross wasn’t the end of the story!

The empty tomb! With the empty tomb, Peter’s second chance had come. With the empty tomb, he could let go of his guilt, regret, and never-ending grief. With the empty tomb, our worst mistakes, our deepest regrets, our gravest wrongs, are already forgiven and released. With the empty tomb, death and sin are conquered, defeated, relinquished. With the empty tomb, we are free to begin again.

Friends, we are an Easter people! He is risen is our creed! And he raises us up with him! Like Jesus, we see the world, even the cross and our crosses, through the corrective lens of the empty tomb.

“O grief, gone is your victory!
    O death, removed is your sting!
O cross, ended is your domain!


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