This morning we recreated for our kids one of my favorite Easter traditions from growing up. Instead of waking up to a basket filled with eggs and candy left by the Easter Bunny, our kids re-enacted the scene at the Garden Tomb on that first Easter Sunday, complete with an angel in a polka-dot dress and an igloo-shaped dome tent filling in for the Tomb. (Don’t worry–our kids aren’t TOO deprived–we just bumped the Easter Bunny festivities up one day, so they got their fill of peeps and chocolate rabbits yesterday) We read the account of the scene at the Garden Tomb from each of the four Gospels, but my favorite is John 20 (especially John making sure the reader knows that he’s a faster runner than Peter–he even mentioned it twice!).
I hope these simple traditions over the years will cement in our kids’ minds and hearts (and ours) the image of the empty tomb, and that the reality of Christ’s resurrection is the core of our faith and our hope. Years ago I remember reading about a hypothetical question posed to some leading pastors and theologians: What if they found the body? I don’t know what the original point of the question was, but I think it gave each responder a chance to reveal something about what their faith really means and what it’s based on. I was surprised and disappointed that quite a few responders answered that it wouldn’t really matter–the principles that Jesus taught and died for are just as valid even if he wasn’t resurrected.
I don’t agree. Although the principles of love and forgiveness that Jesus taught are priceless and life-changing, they are not the reason I worship Christ as my Savior. I worship Christ because he is the Son of God who came down and suffered for my sins, died on the Cross, and rose the third day, as he said he would . Christ is my Savior because he conquered both spiritual death–allowing us all the chance to return to our Father–and physical death, which he did by resurrecting and therefore making it possible for all to be resurrected. This was Christ’s mission, and this is what Christ did, and this is why we worship him, and to claim that any part of this doesn’t matter is to deny Christ’s divinity and cheapen his sacrifice for us.
Although I don’t understand exactly how it is all possible, I believe in the miracle of Jesus’s resurrection, and that belief is the source of my hope in a life to come and in a reunion with my loved ones who have already passed on. I’m grateful for the many testimonies we have of this in the New Testament, and for the beautiful understanding of the resurrection Alma gives to us in his Chapter 40 in the Book of Mormon:
The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.
Whatever your current beliefs are, take today as an opportunity to reflect on Job’s eternal question:
If a man die, shall he live again?
I believe that deep down our souls know the answer to this question, no matter what the status of our faith. I love Job’s own answer:
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
And this is all because two millenia ago a borrowed tomb was found empty.