But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So, they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus.
Luke 24:1-3 NLT
I love surprises. It could be an unexpected visit from family . . . a party celebrating a milestone birthday . . . or a discovery of something that once was lost . . . I just love surprises.
A “surprise” is defined as a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment, as through unexpectedness or . . . to come upon or discover suddenly and unexpectedly.
Contemporary theologian Eugene H. Peterson writes, “It is not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to another. It’s the very nature of wonder to catch us off guard, to circumvent expectations and assumptions. Wonder can’t be packaged, and it can’t be worked up. It requires some sense of being there and some sense of engagement.”
The Wonder Of His Presence. In the darkness of the morning, a new dawn erupts. Although the tomb is empty, the presence of the Risen Savior is evident. Jesus is alive. The beloved disciple, John reminds us of the Savior’s words, “Jesus replied, ‘Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.’” The isolation of the grave gives way to an invitation of Glory. N.T. Wright reminds us, “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.” He is with us!
The Wonder Of His Power. I can’t get over the resurrection morning. For the followers of Christ, all hope was gone. Their belief and faith had been crucified and placed in a burial tomb. It was all over. John records the power of that monumental morning, “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” (John 20:1 NKJV). As Mary and the disciples soon discover, the tomb is empty and Jesus is resurrected. Charles Swindoll writes, “The devil, darkness, and death may swagger and boast, the pangs of life will sting for a while longer, but don’t worry; the forces of evil are breathing their last. Not to worry . . . He is risen!”
The Wonder Of His Peace. There’s something about the rising dawn that brings refreshment. Even when nights are filled with problems, a new day brings new peace. David writes, “For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps 30:5 NLT). Just as those who came to the tomb of Jesus early on a Sunday morning, we too can trade tragedy for triumph . . . heartache for hope . . . suffering for serenity . . . joy absolutely comes in the morning.
The Wonder Of His Promise. Mark records the encounter on the first Easter morning with those caring for Jesus’ body and the Angel, “but the angel said, ‘Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.’” He isn’t here . . . you will see Him in Galilee . . . just as He told you. The impossible becomes possible by the promise of the Prince of Peace. Hope that was lost on Friday is rediscovered on Sunday. Aberjhani writes, “Hearts rebuilt from hope resurrect dreams killed by hate.”
Charles Wesley wrote the following beloved lyrics in 1739:
Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!
This is your day to seek Him because He wants you to find Him . . . it’s His presence.
This is your day to no longer be weak because He is your strength . . . it’s His power.
This is your day to experience peace that passes all understanding . . . it’s His peace.
Today is your day to hope . . . to heal . . . to restore . . . to rest . . . it’s His promise.
What surprise . . . what wonder . . . His tomb has been vacated . . . IT IS EMPTY.