Good News From The Graveyard
(He is not here, he is risen- Matthew 28:6)
By Bill Shepard
I do not like graveyards, they make me uncomfortable! I read too many ghost stories and heard too many tales told about graveyards when I was a boy. Some of those stories live in my mind even until this day. Graveyards are sad places. People can be seen wandering among the gravesites and reading epitaphs of friends and loved ones, while memories chase through their minds.
The old graveyard near the village where I grew up was the object of many stories that I heard when I was a small boy. I seldom let nightfall catch me at a place where I would need to go by the graveyard on my way home after dark.
My thoughts for this article were born inside a graveyard long, long ago. Get the picture! Two women, alone at the breaking of day browsing among the tombs, looking for the grave of a friend that had been recently buried. Those must have been two brave women!
The crucifixion was over, the crowd that had gathered near the cross to watch as their leader slowly died at the hands of those who hated him. His body had been taken away and placed within a tomb. The small group of followers, no doubt for fear of their own lives had dispersed. Now early in the morning, near the breaking of day, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the sepulcher. Then an earthquake happens, then an angel drops down out of heaven and rolled the stone from the grave and sat down on it! This writer would not have heard a word the angel said for I would have gone long before the angel had spoken a word! You might as well confess it, you would have too!
The angel spoke to those two brave women…”I know who you came here to see, but he is not here, for he is risen”, as he said, “Come and see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew’s Gospel- Chapter 28:6.
The story of the Resurrection is of such importance that each of the four Gospel writers tell about it. The story of the Resurrection is probably heard more on this one day, Easter, than in all the rest of the year! Why?
The Resurrection truth is the very core of the Christian faith and is the central theme that runs through the New Testament Church. I say it again, I think we hear too little of it from our own pulpits today.
The Apostle Paul, that great crusader for Jesus Christ declared the truth of the Resurrection everywhere he preached. When some in the Corinthian Church questioned the Resurrection truth, Paul spent much time writing in defense of it. At one point he wrote – “If Christ preached that he rose from the dead, how say some of you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 1 Corinthians 15:12. He goes on to say that if there is no resurrection of the dead then Christ is not risen, our preaching is meaningless, your faith is in vain, you are still in your sins, you have lived a lie, the Church is a fraud, and we have all been deceived! In short, the Apostle seems to be saying that if there be no Resurrection, the grave is the end of all hopes! What a gloomy picture!
Then the Apostle wrote that inspiring letter to the Church at Thessalonia – No doubt you, the reader have stood by an open graveside and heard the words fall from the lips of the minister as he read, “But I would not have you be ignorant brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with one voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Hallelujah! Goodbye world goodbye!
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. He is the author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised”. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week. His mailing address for cards and letters is: Bill Shepard 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, S.C. 29673.