John 20:1-18


1. Problems
Have you ever had that feeling that there is something missing?

Of course, it could have been something that absent or out of place. Like a child looking for a missing tooth, or looking around a room and feeling that there was something missing or misplaced. Alternatively, it could relate to a sense of loss. For example, when someone dear has gone—moved away or passed on—or when something special that we’ve held on to has been lost forever. Or maybe it could have been that feeling of emptiness—a feeling of being spiritually or otherwise unfulfilled—when our life just wasn’t enough, and where there was a void that needed to be filled—and we just didn’t know with what.

Feeling that something is missing is a common enough experience. And that feeling can relate to many things. And in each case we may know that there is a gap that needs to be filled, but we may not always know quite with what or how to fill the void.

2. Solutions
Of course, some of the simple things in life are easy to resolve. After all, with children, new teeth do grow, and for adults, dentures can fill the gap. As for the furniture . . . well, we can rearrange the furniture or find something else to fit in.

But regarding the loss of someone or that special thing that we hold dear, that’s not quite so easy to fix. Nevertheless, we can learn to move on. Yes, we may want to honour the past and keep our memories intact, but we can still learn to move on and start afresh.

Having said that, those feelings of being unfilled, looking for purpose in life, and looking for something to fill the emptiness . . . Well, that’s the hardest thing of all, and that will require the most effort on our behalf.

As a consequence, none of us are exempt from the feeling that something is missing. It affects us all from time to time. And, perhaps, that sense of loss and being unfulfilled, can be no better described than through the reaction of Jesus’s followers to crucifixion.


1. Mary’s Problem
And the reason I say that, is because on the very first Easter day, early in the morning, one of Jesus followers, Mary Magdalene, went to the tomb of Jesus to embalm his dead body. However, as she approached the tomb, she saw the stone that had sealed the tomb had been rolled away. And you can imagine how Mary must have felt:

Because first of all, she didn’t need to look inside the tomb to know that there was something wrong—that the body of Jesus was missing. She’d gone expecting the body to be there, and no matter what Jesus had said before hand, no matter what warning he had given while he’d been alive about being raised from the dead, an empty tomb, for Mary, simply meant there was trouble. As a consequence, in Mary’s mind, even before she got to the tomb, she had concluded that not only was the body missing, but, more than that, that the body had been stolen—and that was far worse.

However, secondly, more than just the dead body being missing, it also meant that the person that she had loved had not only died (which was grounds enough for her mourning), but she wouldn’t be able to pay her last respects to him either.

Now for Mary, this would have given her a real sense of loss. Because all that she had lived for since she had been rescued by Jesus, would have been represented in that tomb. And yet, as she went towards the tomb that morning and saw that the stone had been rolled away . . . Well, what that meant, was that not only was the body missing from the tomb, but she was now no longer able to say goodbye.

And, thirdly, because all of her hopes had been in Jesus, the empty tomb would have been a reminder of her great sense of emptiness—the spiritual vacuum that she felt inside. Her hopes and dreams had become dashed, she no longer knew where she was going, and that meant that she needed to start her soul searching all over again.

2. Comment
Now when we have a sense of something being missing, we don’t usually feel the sense of loss in those three aspects all at that same time: a feeling of something being missing, a sense of loss, and a feeling of being unfulfilled. But Mary did. Because all of those things (combined) are what Mary faced at the tomb as she saw that the stone had been rolled away.

3. Mary’s Solution
Mary, at the tomb, then, must have been a tragic sight. Except for the fact that for Mary, her sense of loss didn’t last long. Her immediate reaction was to rush and find Peter and John. But after they had come and gone, it was she who was the first to come face to face with the resurrected Jesus.

And at that moment all of a sudden, the body that she had been looking for was found. It wasn’t quite as she expected to see it—mistaking Jesus for the gardener—but the body wasn’t missing, and it hadn’t been stolen either. However, it had changed from the body of a crucified man to a resurrected Saviour. Jesus had been resurrected and even had the marks to show what had been done to him.

And that meant that Mary no longer needed to mourn for him. Her friend had been restored. Yes, he had died, and the memory of that event would never go away. But Jesus had been returned to her. Yes, of course, as time went on, Mary had to come to accept that she would see less of him, that his physical presence on Earth was only temporary. But her loved friend and Saviour had come back from death. And in a spiritual sense he would never leave her again.

And because of that, her soul-searching emptiness not only vanished but became fulfilled. Her hopes and dreams and purpose for living were restored. And the faith that she had had in Jesus prior to the crucifixion was vindicated.

In the moment of coming face to face with Jesus in the garden, those feelings of something being missing, that sense of loss, and the feeling of being unfulfilled—all three—were instantly resolved.

4. Why It Happened

But then, isn’t that as it should be? Because after all isn’t, and wasn’t, Jesus the master of all things lost?

Because regarding things missing, Jesus told a number of stories telling about the lengths that some people will go to, to find things that have gone missing. And the stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin are just two examples. And Jesus went on to likening the lengths that people will go to, to the lengths that God goes to, to restore the relationship between himself and his people and to get people into heaven.

Regarding a sense of loss, Jesus knew the tragedy of mourning a loved one. He even assured his disciples that after he had gone, not only that in some spiritual way would he still be with them, but that he would send another Comforter to be with them as well.

And regarding a sense of emptiness and needing purpose, well this was the principal reason that he had come. And Jesus pointed the way using a number of ideas, just so that people would not mistake his message. And ‘I am the way’ and ‘I am the bread of life’ are just two of the ideas used, indicating that there is only one way to be fulfilled—and that is with a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.

And so, for all of these things, he gave up his own life. He sacrificed it, so that what he said and what he promised could be made possible. He took on our sin and enabled God to deal with it, because he knew there was no other way.

There were no short cuts to what Jesus had to do then. And that was why Mary Magdalene (and others) felt as though they were going through the ringer. Well, for a short time at least—from the Thursday night of the arrest until the resurrection appearances on the Sunday morning.

5. Comment
Having those feelings of something missing, then, is precisely what Jesus’s death and resurrection are all about. God knows what we go through when we feel as though something is missing. He knows want it means to feel a sense of loss. But he doesn’t want us to be empty and unfulfilled. He wants us to have a meaningful relationship with him. He wants to give us hope and life.


So, today, do you have that feeling that there is something missing in your life? Because Mary is not the only one who has experienced something missing. It’s not even something that the disciples went through either. But it’s something that all of us go through too.

1. Things Missing
Jesus talked about looking for the things that are missing life, And sheep and coins were only two examples that he used.

So, when we see things are missing, does that encourage us to recall the even greater effort that God puts in to find us when we are lost? Or is it all a matter of ‘so what?’, because we don’t want to be found and, as a consequence, we don’t really want to find the missing body of Jesus at all.

2. A Sense of Loss
Jesus knew about the grief that a sense of loss brings when someone or something that one holds dear is no longer around. That’s why he prepared his disciples for his own loss, before he faced the sentence of death.

So, is there something that we are grieving for too? And is the missing body at the tomb something we are grieving for, or is it a matter of wanting to be left alone, and consequently not wanting the help that he wants to give?

3. A Feeling of Emptiness
And Jesus talked about the need to be fulfilled—and even offered the solution to the feeling of emptiness inside. Indeed, he offered the only true solution—and that is faith in God through Jesus Christ.

So, is there something we need to fill the emptiness inside? And is the missing body in the tomb a solution to our spiritual vacuum too?

When we feel empty inside, then. Does that encourage us to recall the purpose behind the death and resurrection of Jesus, or are we content to continue our lives feeling that void, being unwilling to accept God’s solution at all?


There are times when we all have feelings of something being missing. And those feelings can range over a number of things and at times can be quite intense.

However, is Jesus’s solution one with which we are prepared to engage ourselves? Or are we more willing to muddle along on our own, being lost, and just feeling that something is missing?

Now Easter is a funny time. People get excited about having time off, public holidays, seeing family and friends, etc. And there’s this thing about buns and fish and chocolate too. And while some of those things might be good, and while some of those things can help fill the gaps in our lives on a temporary basis, none of them can even approach what Jesus has to offer to the sense of loss and lack of purpose that we may feel inside.

Jesus died that we might feel fulfilled, that we might have eternal life, and that our relationship with God might be restored to what it should be. That was his goal, and he certainly didn’t want us to live with something missing.

So, when we think about Jesus’s death and resurrection, do we still have something missing inside? Or have we grasped, in full, what his death and resurrection are really all about?

Posted: 7th January 2022
© 2022, Brian A Curtis