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I've never been to Israel, and frankly, I've never really wanted to
go. The Dean of the Seminary where I taught in Albuquerque offered to help
finance a trip for me if I went with the students on an archeological dig.
I said, "Thanks, but no thanks."
I know, I know, it isn't normal for a preacher not to want to go to
Israel, but I don't. The last thing I want to do is play Indiana Jones
in a part of the world that is always at war. (Remember the scene with
the snake pit?) Besides that, there's nothing I really want to see there.
But I do have a dear friend who always wanted to go and got her wish
a few years before her husband passed away. One morning, over breakfast,
she showed me her pictures of the trip. I stared at one particular photo
longer than the others-Jesus' tomb. Of course, there is no way of knowing
if it was the genuine tomb or a tourist trap, but I suspended any disbelief
I had and looked with fascination.
I listened to Nell as she described the heavy gloom that squeezed her
soul as she walked inside. She felt the full weight of Calvary as she recalled
all the sermons she'd ever heard about the way He died-how the Jews conspired
against Him and how the Romans beat Him. She couldn't linger, she had to
get out, but something stopped her cold as she turned to walk out. The
words above the exit of the tomb changed her entire perspective. She read
"He has risen; He is not
here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him." (Mark 16:6)
On second thought, the very
fact that there is "nothing to see" might be reason enough to go and not
Read the sermon, "Easter"
that corresponds to this devotional.