John 20

Today’s reading is John 20.
Open your journal or Bible to mark some observations:
+ Note who reports the empty tomb.
+ Reflect on the significance of an empty tomb.
Have you ever considered how much of Christianity is based upon the death of Jesus? Many other world religions place all or most of their religion's emphasis on the life of an individual. Yet in Christianity that isn’t the case. Christianity is built upon the life, death, AND resurrection of Jesus. What makes Jesus unique is that he is the only one to even claim to defeat death, let alone do it. So we are left with a question, what are we to make about a claim of an empty tomb?
For staters the empty tomb and its narrative should give us confidence. Early in John 20 we read one small, yet ever so important detail about the empty tomb. That detail is the fact that women were the first to report the empty tomb. Why is this such an important thing to take note of? It’s because women were not thought of very fondly in the first century. Take for example the prayer that was often said by Jewish men in the first century, “Blessed art thou, O’ Lord our God, king of the universe, who has not created me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” Here is another rabbinical saying in that day and age “Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women.” Needless to say, women weren’t valued highly in that time. So the significance of women being the first to report the empty tomb means Jesus loves and values women equally to men. Regardless of how culture treated women then, Jesus treated them with respect, dignity, and equality.

Secondly, details about women reporting the body first gives us confidence that this story is true. The disciples would never have used women in this story if it was a hoax. If they or someone else stole the body to pull a prank, it would lessen their credibility to use women in that time. Though a small detail, it’s another significant detail to reassure us that our faith is not in vain.

The last thing we can consider is the significance of what the tomb being empty really means. It means we’ve been set free. Death has been conquered and sin has been defeated. Yet one of the schemes the enemy uses to trip us up is to feed us lies and make us live as though the tomb isn’t empty. When we fail to live with an empty tomb in mind, we remain bound in our shackles. A tomb that isn’t empty causes us to feel guilt and shame for things we’ve done in our past. When we live as though Jesus is still in the grave, we fail to forgive.
But because the tomb IS empty, we have the power to forgive. We can live with peace that surpasses understanding, and we don’t have to live in shame from past sin. There is eternal life, never-ending joy, and abundant freedom in the empty tomb. Rejoice in the fact the tomb IS empty today!
Just for today-

+ What does the empty tomb mean for you?
+ How can you live this week with an empty tomb in mind?
Jay Quick | Student Ministries Director

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