So what do we do now as we go forth from the empty tomb? Let us follow the example of the first witnesses of the empty tomb. After the two angels reminded Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women that Jesus had risen, St. Luke tells us that “they remembered the words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest” (Lk 24:8-9, emphasis mine). They went forth from the tomb changed by the resurrection of Jesus. They went forth from the tomb to bring an “every day” witness of God’s power over Sin, death, Hell, and Satan himself.
So where do we go once we leave the empty tomb? Let us follow the example of Jesus’ first disciples. After Jesus walked through locked doors to appear to the eleven disciples and to show himself to Thomas, seven of the eleven disciples went back to their fishing business (Jn 21:1-14). They went back to their vocations or stations in life and took the witness of the resurrection with them. They lived in the joy of the resurrection of Jesus while carrying out the daily, ordinary labor and responsibilities given to them.
Similar to the women at the empty tomb and the eleven disciples, we are “every day” witnesses and participants in the resurrection of Jesus. We believe and are baptized. We have the hope of eternal life. We have the joy of the resurrection living inside of us. Also, like the women at the empty tomb and the eleven disciples, we have vocations or stations in life that God has given to us as gift. Most of us are not fishermen, but all of us have one or more of these callings: father, husband, mother, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandparent, employee, retiree, friend, and neighbor. Each of these callings comes with a set of duties and responsibilities. As repentant Christians, by God’s grace we wrap the daily duties and responsibilities of our vocations in the joy, love, peace, and forgiveness of Christ. And, more than likely, others will take notice and God will bless your faithful work by giving you opportunities to “tell all these things to all the rest” (Lk 24:9).
Now, we go forth from Easter Sunday and the celebration of the empty tomb free as God’s forgiven children in Christ. Now we go forth empowered by God’s Spirit living and active within us to live in the joy of the resurrection as “every day” witnesses. “For thee delightfully employ whate’er thy bounteous grace has giv’n, and run my course with even joy, and closely walk with thee to heav’n” (LSB 854, “Forth in Thy Name, O Lord, I Go,” stanza 5).
Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go,
My daily labor to pursue,
Thee, only Thee, resolved to know
In all I think or speak or do.
The task Thy wisdom has assigned,
O let me cheerfully fulfill;
In all my works Thy presence find,
And prove Thy good and perfect will.
Thee may I set at my right hand,
Whose eyes my inmost substance see,
And labor on at Thy command,
And offer all my works to Thee.
Give me to bear Thine easy yoke,
And ev’ry moment watch and pray,
And still to things eternal look,
And hasten to Thy glorious day.
For Thee delightfully employ
Whate’er Thy bounteous grace has giv’n,
And run my course with even joy,
And closely walk with Thee to heav’n.
Text (sts. 1–5): Public domain