5The angel said to the women, “Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. 6He isn't here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying.
The church is built on a hole in the ground.
The women saw it first. They ran to tell the men, who ran to see for themselves. Each of them beheld it, a wide dark gash in the earth. An omen? A promise? Each stepped inside. Their eyes adjusted to the gloom, and then each saw the exact same thing: Nothing. Complete and utter emptiness.
There was no one there.
They sought a corpse and found a rumor. They expected an occupied grave and discovered an abandoned room. They entered a tomb and exited a birthing house. A dead end, it turned out, was only a secret passage to new life.
He is not here, an angel told them. He is risen.
And so it is: ever after, their faith, and ours, is based on a hole in the ground.
One of the central claims of Scripture is that God is everywhere. He is up, down, in, out, over there, right here. He is closer than a brother. He is closer than your breath. There is nowhere you can go, not anywhere in the whole wide deep creation, where God is not already present.
But there’s one exception. 2000 years ago, in a rocky hillside outside Jerusalem, the God of the universe in the person of Jesus of Nazareth chose to leave one place for good. He was carried, bloodied and dead, into the grave. He got up, triumphant and alive, and walked out of it, and never went back. As Peter put it in his first sermon, “it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24).
Jesus has left the building – he’s left that building, the house of death. He abandoned it forever. And all who follow him get to walk out with him.
Our faith rests on Christ’s atoning sacrifice, his becoming sin for us, and on his glorious risen presence, his complete conquest over the last enemy, death.
Which is another way of saying, our faith is built on a hole in the ground.
Come, see for yourself: he is not here; he is risen.
Lord Jesus Christ, I don’t have words to thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you for your living presence with me. Help me to live out my life in your risen power. Amen.