Turning Empty Into Full by Patty LaRoche

Two brothers were getting ready to boil some eggs to color for Easter. “I’ll give you ten dollars if you let me break three of these on your head,” said the older one. “Promise?” asked the younger. “Promise!” Enjoying the moment, the older boy broke the first egg over his brother’s head, then another one. The younger brother braced himself for the last egg, but nothing happened. “Ain’t ya gonna break the third egg?” the boy asked. His brother replied, “Nah, if I did that, I’d owe ya ten dollars!”

Life is full of empty promises, isn’t it?  “For better or worse” becomes “Until I find someone else.”  “Best buy on the lot” becomes “A lot of car repairs.”  “I won’t tell anyone” becomes the talk of the town.  “Vote for me and I’ll…” becomes a joke.  “Buy this vitamin and you’ll have renewed energy and perfect health” becomes “Read the fine print.”  Unfortunately, too many of the world’s promises leave us unfulfilled or empty.

I’m so glad God doesn’t work that way.  In fact, He is the master at turning “empty” into “full.”  Full of promise, to be exact.

When I went to Israel several years ago, I toured where Jesus was born, where he walked, where he died and where he was buried, but the image I cherished most was that his grave was empty.  He who had died to pay the debt for every sin committed had exited his burial tomb to be with his Father in Heaven.  In Jesus’ day, no one expected him to be resurrected.  Jesus’ death was the end of their dreams.  Two men, however, did not let that stop them from honoring him.

Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate for permission to bury Jesus in his own tomb.  It was a brave move and a generous gift.  We know little about Joseph except that Mark 15:43 tells us he was “…a prominent member of the Council…” (That’s the Sanhedrin, the supreme judicial authority of Israel who had illegally condemned Jesus to death), and Luke 23:51 says that he was “…a good & upright man, who had not consented to their decision & action.”

Scripture tells us that Joseph was aided by Nicodemus who brought a mixture of myrrh & aloes, about 75 pounds, burial spices for Jesus’ body.  John 19:38 reveals that Nicodemus was not as bold as Joseph.  In fact, he was a disciple, but “secretly.”  Sounds sad, doesn’t it?  Actually, it sounds sort of empty…sort of like the faith of some Christians who keep their relationship with Jesus a secret.

Had Nicodemus known that within three days, that tomb would be empty, I have to believe that he would not have been so hush-hush about being a follower of Christ. Still, he did more than most who ran for the hills when Jesus died.  What I love is that the story was so much grander than Joseph or Nicodemus could ever imagine.  They had gifted the one who conquered death with a final resting place, never realizing that Jesus’ death was just the beginning of a promise to all of us…that we too could join him for eternity if we put our trust in him.  The empty cave assures us of that promise.

We, unlike Joseph or Nicodemus, are assured of the ending. If that confidence doesn’t make us bold in how we share Jesus with others, I don’t know what will.


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