He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Matthew 28:6
Cemeteries are places of memories.
Go to any cemetery and you will usually spot someone standing by a loved one’s gravestone. They’re not cleaning, or planting flowers. In fact, they’re not doing anything special at all. They’re just standing there, remembering.
But what is someone like Sally Regenhard to do with her memories? On September 11th, her son, a firefighter, was killed in the twin towers of New York’s Trade Center. Sally has never received any of her son’s remains. She has never had anything to bury. What does Sally do for memories?
This year, Sally, along with other 9/11 families, went to “ground zero.” While the names of those who died were being read in a park across the street, the mourners walked down to a small section of the former World Trade Center. Jim Riches, a New York Fire Chief who also lost a son in the attack said, “It's a relief for the families and solace for me to know I can go down to where he drew his last breath and leave a flower.”
Even when there is no body to bury, even when there is no gravestone, cemeteries are a place of memories.
When I read that story filed by the Associated Press last week, I thought of another group of mourners who, 2,000 years ago, went to a friend’s grave. I wondered what they talked about as they went in the pre-dawn hours to His sepulcher. Did they think about the good times and the laughter? Did they speak of the things they wished they had said? Did they talk about their disappointment in how His life had been cut short on Calvary’s cross?
Scripture doesn’t record what those women said as they went to the cemetery. It does say what they found when they got there. They found nothing. There was no body beginning to decay. There was no corpse to prepare. There was only an empty tomb and an angel who said, “He is not here, for He is risen.”
Those words at the empty-grave of Christ change everything. Those who have been saved by the Savior’s sacrifice know that the grave no longer has the final victory. It doesn’t make any difference if death comes swiftly or slowly, painfully or peacefully. It has been defeated. Jesus’ empty tomb says that Sally’s son, Jim Riches son, and our redeemed love ones will live again.
This is why next time you go to a cemetery, and your mind and heart is filled with memories of someone who has died, please take time to remember the risen Christ who said, “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19)
THE PRAYER: Dear living Lord Jesus, let Your resurrection always be a comfort to me as I remember those in the faith who have died. With faith in You, may I look forward to the resurrection reunion. In Your Name, Amen.