It’s one of those mornings . . . the words just don’t flow . . . a topic doesn’t jump out at me. Instead it’s more about just sitting quietly thinking over what I’ve read this morning . . . a little bit of awe-induced silence, I think.
Four readings this morning, as usual, from my reading plan. Three are “big” readings . . . “big” as in God is big. First, I’m reading in Job 38 where God has “stepped up to the podium” interrupting the debate between Job and his buddies. And God says, “Listen up . . . and stand up . . . and ‘fess up . . . ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding'” (Job 38:4). And the LORD drills Job . . . and you imagine Job’s jaw dropping . . . you imagine his knees buckling . . . not a stretch to think of this one, who wanted an audience with the Almighty, facedown before the God who engineered, manufactured, and controls all of creation. God is so “big” in this passage!
Then I read the prophet Zephaniah and his declaration that “the great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there” (Zeph. 1:14). And the wrath of God is prophesied. “In the fire of His jealousy” (1:18, 3:8) the Lord GOD will reveal Himself in might and power, putting an end to any notion that there are other gods to be bowed to . . . “The LORD will be awesome against them; for He will famish all the gods of the earth, and to Him shall bow down, each in its place, all the lands of the nations” (2:11). And following His big judgment will be great rejoicing as Zion is restored . . . and in her midst stands “the LORD your God” . . . “a mighty One who will save” . . . and “He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing” (3:17). Big wrath followed by great joy. Great love . . . accompanied by big singing. Oh, the wonder of God!
And then to Revelation 17 . . . carried by the Spirit (Rev. 17:3) . . . the nations gathering to make war on the Lamb . . . but “the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings” . . . just as Zephaniah foretold . . . “and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful” (17:14). The Lamb, the victor in battle . . . how big is that?
But my fourth reading, at first, doesn’t come across as “big.” In fact, it’s kind of empty . . . eerily quiet . . . not much said. John 20 says it was on the first day of the week . . . three days after Jesus had died on a cross and had been buried . . . that Mary “came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb” (John 20:1). She runs to tell Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb!” The two disciples immediately high-tail it to the place where Jesus was buried. John outruns Peter and gets there first and pokes his head in to have a look . . . but Peter, when he arrives, storms into the tomb and is the first to enter the place where Jesus had been laid . . . John following him in. And they see “the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus head, not lying with the line cloths but folded in a place by itself” (20:6-7).
Like I said . . . at first it doesn’t seem as “big” as God quizzing Job . . . or Zephaniah’s vision of God’s singing in the midst of the redeemed . . . or the Lamb conquering the armies of earth raised in opposition to Him. But then you hover over the quiet, empty tomb . . . and it gets big, too. The tomb could not hold the One conceived by a virgin and born in a manger . . . the grave could not contain the Man hung on a cross to redeem a lost world . . . death could not triumph over the Son of God, in Whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily . . . Who is the head of all rule and authority” (Col. 2:9-10)! It says that, as John went into to examine up close that quiet, empty tomb, that “he saw and believed” (20:8). You gotta’ know that for for John and Peter . . . this was big!
Oh, the victory that is ours through the empty tomb . . . the hope that is ours because of a silent grave . . . the power that is ours because of His risen life . . . how big is that? Pretty!