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Dealing With Grave Robbers

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). -John 20:11-16 NIV

One of my wife’s favorite authors is Elizabeth Peters’ “Amelia Peabody” series.  This series of mystery novels is built around Amelia Peabody and her archeologist husband, Emerson.  As they seek to do the work of excavating and finding ancient ruins, they are constantly troubled by grave robbers…. Either those of previous generations who have looted the tombs of the Pharaohs and taken all the valuable artifacts or modern day grave robbers who will stop at nothing to get to the valuable treasures before Emerson and Amelia.  But of course, grave robbers are nothing new.  They have been around for years in many forms.  Even the American classic, Tom Sawyer, features grave robbers.

I was reminded of this last week as our team that went to visit and work alongside Tom and Terry Myers visited the ancient ruins of Philippi.  I found myself imitating the narrator’s voice for Emerson to encourage Debbie to move along as we spent time looking at the wonders there.  And we learned that treasure hunters are still trying to profit off the ruins of previous generations, raiding the burial sites not just of individuals, but of ancient towns, looking for those artifacts that will provide them a tidy profit.


Of course, it still happens today.  It occurs with the raiding of archeological sights that occur on every continent… whether it be Native American, Mayan or Ancient Greece.  Or perhaps you may think of the ghoulish stories you occasionally hear about a body parts “black market”.  And it even happens with the numerous attempts to create fraudulent wills and documents that will entitle someone to lay claim to a deceased persons estate.  There are people out there who hope to profit off the demise of others and they have become quite creative and effective at it.


But lest we get mired in the much of this, let me suggest that if you add up the value of the artifacts attained by all the grave robbers in history, it will not even come close to what Jesus did. You see Jesus was the greatest grave robber of them all!  Jesus robbed the grave not only of its power over He himself, but also of the very souls and hearts of those who trust in Him.  His resurrection stole from Satan the very thing that Satan valued most.  Our immortal souls no longer belong to Satan and the darkness of the world, but instead they belong to the One who loved us enough to send the Son into the world.  We are able to claim the promise of dwelling with our Creator for eternity rather than in the darkness and desolation of the grave.  Jesus’ death and resurrection gave us light and life for all eternity.


No, we don’t often think of Jesus as a grave robber.  But even in this He was able to give life and light into our dark world.


Prayer:   Thank you Lord, for sending Jesus into the dark world to bring light and life.  We thank you also for His willingness to enter even into the darkness of the tomb for our sakes.  Amen.

Reverend Dr. Steve Van Ostran
Executive Minister


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