"What's a bunny got to do with Easter?" The question came from one of the kids in my Scripture class. I am always amazed with the questions they come up with. Who made God? Why cant we see him? They have an endless supply of questions which are often impossible to answer, and the Easter Bunny one was but another example. I guess some retailer obviously had an oversupply of stuffed bunnies and so dreamt up a way to shift them. For our part we have been stuck with them ever since. I have been told that they are actually a sign of new life - fertility and all that. I suspect that was an idea thought up by a clergyman trying to come up with a good illustration for an Easter day sermon. A bit like the idea that the chocolate Easter egg is a sign of the empty tomb. I can remember the time when Chocolate Easter eggs were filled with sweets, so maybe sweets represent the blessings of the empty tomb!
Seriously though, what does the empty tomb tell us? Is it the greatest joke in history? On that Sunday morning two thousand years ago something happened. Some say the disciples got it wrong; they went to the wrong tomb. There is the claim that the disciples actually stole the body and then went around telling everyone that Jesus was alive. Some have even suggested that Jesus actually revived in the cool tomb and was able to spend some time with his disciples before his wounds got the best of him. One of the most popular ideas is that the disciples simply came to accept that Jesus was alive. Jesus' teachings on the promise of New Life were so strong that the disciples began to believe that Jesus himself was not dead, but alive.
No one can prove the resurrection of Jesus. Actually, the gospel of Mark finishes in a very interesting way. A group of ladies come to the tomb on the Sunday morning, following the crucifixion of Jesus, and they find the stone rolled away. They are confronted with an angel who tells them that Jesus is not here but risen. The gospel ends with the ladies leaving the tomb afraid and bewildered. Of course, that's where we stand today. We can't see and touch the risen Jesus; all we have is the empty tomb and what that might mean - a mystery indeed.
One explanation for the empty tomb is that Jesus actually rose from the dead. That explanation is fundamental to the Christian faith and it carries with it two implications. First, because Jesus lives, we will survive death - "Death where is thy sting?" Second, because Jesus lives, we can live now - "Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God."