As I stood in line waiting my turn to go inside the small tomb and see it with my own eyes, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something all of us who were visiting the tomb were hoping to see, or just desiring to confirm for ourselves the Tomb was in fact empty. After all, 25 million people travel from all around the world each year to this exact spot in order to catch a glimpse of this same Tomb. Yet, guess what we discovered? The Tomb IS still empty! God’s promise still remains in tact. So what were we looking for? Like the original disciples, were we seeking to find the living among the dead because of our own lack of belief in the message we have been told in Scripture? Do we also have times of doubt in God’s written Word that we feel the need to see to believe?
It’s worth the reflection. We are quick to judge Thomas for doubting the resurrection of Christ because he had not seen the nail-pierced hands and feet of His Savior himself when Jesus first appeared to the disciples following His resurrection. (John 20) Thomas had not gone to the tomb that Resurrection morning with the women or with Peter and John. He had missed the whole thing. Yet, out of His faithful loving kindness, Jesus showed Himself to Thomas face-to-face before ascending to heaven, but not without speaking a word
to him: “…Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer…Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.” (John 20:27, 29)
Jesus’ words still apply today. What became very apparent to me is just how amazing it is that God’s consistent message of grace and forgiveness through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Bible travelled so far all the way to the United States to this lost American girl. For I had no chance of visiting Israel at the time and would have been in big trouble if that was the only place salvation could be found. Yet by God’s saving grace and the residing presence of His spirit, salvation is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ, not in a remote place halfway around the world. And this is Good News! Will I take God at
His Word, which is available to me in written form, and trust Him for what He already accomplished through Christ? Will I trust Him to fulfill His future promises spelled out in Scripture and live out the truth of that Word? Will I continue to be changed by God’s Word and His Gospel message right here where God has placed me enough to share it with others who want to believe even without seeing?
It is remarkable to travel and see Israel, but it is even more astonishing that God’s love reaches beyond the borders of Israel to find a repentant heart no matter where you reside. The Tomb is still empty…may that truth transform your life by the saving power of Jesus. Believe His Word and His Message of grace and forgiveness today, right where you are. Don’t wait to go to Israel to see an empty Tomb to meet Jesus face-to-face when He can be found here and now. “He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said.” (Matt. 28:6)
The Apostle Paul reminds us of this from his sermon recorded in Acts 17: “The God who made the world and everything in it – He is LORD of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands…From one man He has made every nation of men to live all over the earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live, so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (v. 24, 26-27)
Shalom! Tamar Miller