(NOTE: Dr. J. Ellsworth Kalas, longtime pastor, author, and teacher, passed away yesterday. He was an inspiration to many. He lived and died with A FULL AND SURE HOPE of eternal life through Christ Jesus.)
Here's the good news about Easter. The tomb was now full. And it has been full ever since.
[Full of] victory, for instance. One of Charles Wesley's great hymns challenges the domain of the tomb by a series of questions: "Where, O death, is now thy sting?... Where's thy victory, boasting grave?" ("Christ the Lord Is Risen Today?") Tombs have for so long declared themselves the ultimate winners; after all, no mortal escapes them! But no longer. We do indeed die, but with a sublime confidence that we will rise again. We will win! Our Lord has taken conquest of the grave, turning its emptiness into a habitation of victory. The game we humans have been losing since Adam and Eve is now turned into victory.
And hope too. The tomb is now full of hope. During my nearly forty years as a parish pastor, I stood many hundreds of times at the open grave, speaking the words of committal, and knowing that as soon as our gathering left the cemetery, workers would lower the vault into the ground and would begin to throw dirt upon it. But I conducted such "final rites" with hope. As a fellow human being, I wanted often to weep with the mourners, and sometimes I did; I felt for their loss, particularly in those instances where death seemed to have come earlier than was its right. But my tears were of sympathy, not of despair. The tomb is now full of hope. I remember my father pausing for the last time at the casket of my mother and saying quietly, "I'll see you in the morning, Mother," and I knew he was right. Such is our hope. Simple, yes; but full and sure.
-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in New Testament Stories from the Back Side