Eight years ago, we went on a tour of the Holy Land. There we saw the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Garden Tomb, both of which purport to be the spot of Christ’s tomb. One of the folks on the trip, who had been years before, said he’d be interested to hear the following Easter which location popped into our minds when we heard verses read about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
When Easter came, one image clearly filled my mind–the Garden Tomb. And it has been the consistent image for me when I hear or read verses about the Easter story. At first, I wondered why. That site was no more authentic looking than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Both location were very grand and touristy–though in very different ways–and not at all what the place would have looked like in Jesus’ time. But the Garden Tomb had another significance for me that ties it to the Easter story.
Earlier in the day that we visited that site, I’d said something that hurt the feelings of one of our group leaders. I had spoken carelessly, he had taken what I said the wrong way, and he reacted angrily. I was embarrassed and I felt awful for hurting him. My heart was very heavy as our bus wound through the tight and crowded streets of Jerusalem and we made our way into the Garden Tomb. We looked in the tomb, read a Bible passage, and then we were to have communion. Before we did so, though, the person I’d offended pulled me aside. He apologized for getting so angry, I apologized for saying something without thinking and hurting him, and we hugged.
What stands out for me at the Garden Tomb was the opportunity, in a small but powerful way, to live into forgiveness and reconciliation. The other traveler could have remained angry. I could have remained in my state of feeling guilty. We could have given each other a wide berth, and by the end of the trip, maybe even have taken to avoiding each other as our feelings festered. But instead, we cleared the air, and relationship was restored.
Through Christ’s death on the cross and his glorious resurrection 3 days later, we can be reconciled to God. And more than that, as those saved by Christ’s death and resurrection, we are to be agents of reconciliation, so it says in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
This Easter Sunday, as we thank God for our new life and reconciliation in Christ, let us also remember that, as the reconciled, we are to work to bring reconciliation and restoration to the world.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!