As my family and I have struggled through the past week and a half, dealing with the death of my missionary brother, I thought of a study abroad I spent in the Middle East: while there, my class and I visited the Garden Tomb, where each of us took the time to walk up to the tomb, step in, and look around. We all knew there was nothing in the tomb, but felt compelled to look inside.
This reminded me of several verses in John 20, where Mary Magdalene visited Christ’s tomb and found the stone removed and the tomb empty, and ran to tell Peter and John. The three of them ran back to the tomb, where John looked into the tomb, and then Peter followed, “and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie…then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre.” After they left, Mary Magdalene returned, “and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre.” Each of these three people felt the need to look into the tomb, and see for themselves that it was empty, just like I, and each of my classmates, felt compelled to look into the tomb, as though we, like Peter, John, and Mary, needed to make sure it was truly empty.
As I thought about these verses, and my time at the Garden Tomb, I remembered one of my favorite lines from the Bible, which is in Luke 24:5-6: Mary Magdalene and other women came to the tomb and found it empty, and as they stood, confused, they saw two angels, who asked them, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.”
As I’ve thought about these two scriptures; Peter, John, and Mary each looking into the tomb, and the angels announcing that Christ was not among the dead, I have found my testimony. Each of us feels the need to find out for ourselves if the tomb is empty, and in some of my darkest, loneliest hours I have looked into Christ’s tomb, and found it empty. Because of this I don’t have to look for my brother among the dead. While I struggle with the grief that comes from his death, and it sometimes feels like a dark wave washing over me and trying to pull me out to sea, my belief that Christ rose from the dead and will raise my brother anchors me when I feel the relentless pull of my grief, and lights my path as I walk through this valley of the shadow of death. Because Christ left his tomb empty, my brother’s future does not end with death, and I look to the day when I will see him again, alive and well.