New Life Begins at the Empty Tomb

When you complete one of those health and ancestry kits that you order online, it gives you all kinds of percentages. For example, I’m “only 30 percent likely” to lose my hair as I age. I’m also “40 percent likely to have mid-digit hair” (the little hair between your knuckles, which I have).

It even told me I was 73 percent likely to not have a fear of public speaking, which was … affirming. I was encouraged to learn I have the genetic makeup of an elite power athlete but then brought back to earth when I read that I have 40 percent more Neanderthal DNA than the average human.

What those kits don’t give you is the percentage of your probability of death, because that holds steady for all of us at 100 percent.

It’s Not Getting Better

Death is coming for all of us. It feels devastating and permanent. And, sadly, we begin to taste death long before we finally pass away. There’s the loss of loved ones, of course. But even personally, our bodies won’t let us forget where we’re headed. I’m old enough now that things in my body are no longer improving. I don’t get better-looking and stronger and healthier every year. Every year, I put in the same amount of effort at the gym, but the results I get back are smaller and smaller. These days, I wake up sore just from sleeping.

Maybe you use vitamins or herbs or essential oils or the best treatments money can buy—and it may even be working for you for now—but at some point, all those things will fail. Our bodies are aging, and we can’t reverse that. Death is coming for all of us.

But the Resurrection shows us that if we are in Christ, none of this is ultimately true. There is a great reversal ahead. A day is coming when God will remove the curse of death entirely from our lives. He will undo every injustice and heal every hurt. He will wipe away every tear and make all things new. J. R. R. Tolkien said on that day God will “make every sad thing come untrue.”

In the last chapters of Isaiah, God describes for Israel what that day will be like: “The wolf will dwell with the lamb … The cow and the bear will graze … An infant will play beside the cobra’s pit … They will not harm or destroy each other on my entire holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:6–9 CSB). It’s the beauty of creation, working in harmony.

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “… your heart will tremble and rejoice, because the riches of the sea will become yours and the wealth of the nations will come to you” (Isaiah 60:5 CSB). All the beautiful things of the world will be ours. There is no pleasure or beauty that will be withheld from us, and we’ll be so happy, we will tremble.

Here’s what’s even more amazing: Paul says that in the resurrection, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54 ESV). When you swallow something, like food, it becomes a part of you. The pain and the struggles of life become a part of our victory so that the final product is better for having gone through it. One day we’ll see that God used all those things in our lives to make us more like him and increase our enjoyment of him.

Jesus the Dogwood Flower

Paul calls Jesus’ resurrection the “firstfruits” of the new creation; it is a taste of what is to come.

In Paul’s day, farmers didn’t know how a crop was going to turn out. They had no way to know if the seed or soil was good or if the weather would cooperate. So, when the first fruits appeared, they gave an indication of what the rest of the crop would be like.

April is the prettiest time in North Carolina, when those “first flowers” on the dogwood tree arrive. They are a sign that a sea of green, the new creation of spring, is on its way.

The resurrection is the dogwood flower of the new creation, an indication of what is to come.

Living through a pandemic has left many people wondering where life is headed. There is no question: it leads to the grave. Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re going to die eventually—but our story doesn’t have to end there.

Because of the empty tomb, our road doesn’t end at the grave. For those in Christ, the resurrection is where our story begins.