Acts 10:34,37-43, Colossians 3:1-4, John 20:1-9
ALLELUIA!! ALLELUIA!! THERE IS JOY ALL OVER THE EARTH. HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE REJOICING. JESUS HAS CONQUERED DEATH. OUR HOPE IS ALIVE AGAIN. WITHOUT THE RESURRECTION WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE HOPE OF MAN?
The story of the Resurrection of Jesus is at the very heart of our Christian faith. We find versions of the story in all four Gospels, although each Gospel contains only portions of the entire narrative.
Mystery surrounds the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everybody saw the murder and the death. But nobody could find the body.
By all ordinary human standards, the story of Jesus Christ should have ended with his death and burial. With the beginning of the Sabbath at sunset on Friday, the Jewish law strictly forbids all further operations at the tomb.
However, on the following day, the Chief priests come to Pilate and request that a guard is at the tomb for safety till the third day.
A Temple guard was, therefore, stationed at the sepulchre and the stone sealed. What happened in the forty hours between the burial on Friday and dawn on Sunday morning no man knows- except perhaps the guards.
But one startling indisputable fact emerges. At dawn on Sunday morning the stone was found rolled away and the tomb empty!
The Testimony of The Empty Tomb.
The first physical evidence we had was that the stone that had sealed the tomb had been rolled away! And also the linen cloth that had covered the body of Christ was inside the tomb, as was the facecloth.
Luke 24:12 says “But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves..” in today’s gospel, John 20: 6 says “Then Simon Peter went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.” These facts are indisputable.
There is no evidence anywhere in the ancient world that anyone disputed that the tomb of Jesus was empty on Sunday morning, not even those who crucified Jesus.
Even the most sceptical, cynical, and unbelieving historians, philosophers, and theologians agree that a man named Jesus died on a Roman cross on Friday and was later buried in a tomb that was empty on Sunday morning.
They also agree that countless individuals, both men and women, testified that they saw Jesus alive on multiple occasions after he had died, included among whom was Saul of Tarsus, who for quite some time hated and persecuted those who claimed that Jesus was alive, but later came to faith and devoted his life to spreading that message that he once hated and eventually died for it. Something must have given him such courage and motivation.
The Testimony From the Visit of Peter and John.
John relates how Mary came and told them that the body had been taken. (Note that Mary did not say Jesus was alive, as she had not yet seen Jesus and was still convinced someone had taken the body.)
John outran Peter to the tomb and, looking in, saw the empty grave clothes; but did not go inside. Peter did go in and discovered that the headpiece was not lying with the other items but folded by itself (John 20:5-7).
After this John also went in and, on seeing this evidence, apparently concluded that a miracle had occurred. He believed because they had not yet realized that Jesus’ resurrection was predicted in the Old Testament. This evidence simply indicates that Jesus has risen because;
- a) it effectively ruled out the Jewish authorities as being responsible for the body’s removal. Merely touching a corpse made one ritually ‘unclean’ ( Numbers 19:11),
- b) Anyone who died by hanging from a tree was regarded as ‘accursed’ (Deut. 21:22-3); so the Jews would not have wanted to unwrap the body.
- c) Similarly, we have already noted that anyone stealing the body would not be likely to spend time unwrapping it at the scene of the crime.
Then What happened to the Body?
No one has ever denied the fact of the empty tomb. There is no hint of doubt in the literature of the period.
The problem is that many people are yet to believe in this mighty event because this is the only event that sets Christianity apart from other religions of the world.
No one has risen from the dead except Him. Some detractors of the faith and the Jewish leaders tried to put up some arguments to underate today’s event, undermining the validity and truth of the resurrection of Christ, some people said the body was stolen by the apostles, some said it was carried away by the Romans, some said, the women went to a wrong tomb, etc.
The main truth is “The body of Jesus is no longer in the grave, He is now alive. How this happened is still beyond the full comprehension of the human mind. Until this day, not even the Roman and Jewish authorities can be able to provide the body of Jesus, if it is stolen.
How True if Jesus did not rise?
Firstly, If it is true that the followers of Jesus claim He rose from the dead, what they could have done is simply put the body on display and end the debate.
The Romans fought and resisted the early Christians but never for once attempted to refute their claim that Jesus was alive.
But if they had stolen the body also, they could easily have done so and even arrest the apostles to prove that they did it actually, but the Mighty Roman empire could not Imagine!!.
The story continues to wire. This is to say that no man can stop what God has determined.
Secondly, if the disciples stole the body they knew that Jesus did not rise again.
And if they knew the resurrection was a myth, why did they so willingly and joyfully endure such persecution and eventual martyrdom?
People do not typically die horrible deaths for something they know is not true, unless, of course, they are certifiably insane.
They were fearful men who had fled in terror and self-protection when Jesus was arrested and crucified (Mark 14:50).
Yet they preached courageously that He was alive. Why willing to be beaten, stoned, imprisoned, and martyred for a message, you knew to be a fraud?
Thirdly, Maybe it was dark and the women went to the wrong tomb and finding it empty proclaimed that Jesus had risen from the dead.
But if they went to the wrong tomb and used this as the basis for declaring that Jesus had risen from the dead, why couldn’t the Roman authorities go to the correct tomb, produce the body, and put an end to Christianity right from the start?
And are we to believe that Peter made the same mistake in broad daylight when he went to the tomb (John 20:6)?
How is it that both the women and Peter saw the empty grave clothes if they were at the wrong tomb?
Fourthly, If the risen Jesus did not appear to Paul, why did he turn from a lucrative career as a Pharisee to one destined to be stoned and beaten and jailed and ridiculed and eventually murdered?
Did Paul abandon everything he had worked and sacrificed to achieve based on a fabrication?
The Resurrection is the Foundation of Our Faith
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single greatest event in the history of the world and the cornerstone of the Christian faith.
It is so foundational to Christianity that anyone who denies the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ cannot be a genuine Christian because it is an essential doctrine of the Christian faith.
Without the resurrection, there is no Christian faith, no salvation—and no hope for man.
As Paul, the Apostle said, “If Christ does not rise, then our preaching is useless, your faith is meaningless, we are still in our sins, those who have died believing in Christ are lost and we are of all men the most pathetic. We might as well eat, drink, and be merry for there is nothing more to live than this.”
As We Look into the Tomb
The most important truth of all is that as we look into the empty tomb, we see that Jesus is not in it. Jesus is risen and has conquered death. The empty tomb is one of the great pieces of evidence of the resurrection.
Most people who have written seriously about the events of this momentous week have noted that in all the reports we have, whether in the New Testament or in secular sources of the time, there is not one attempt to deny that the tomb was empty. Jesus is real and Jesus is still alive.
If He is still alive, then He is still with us. We should not fear even if the earth should fall into the sea.
1. The empty tomb simply reminds us that eternity is real. It reminds us that we shall be in the grave someday, and we shall also die.
It reminds us that we will taste death someday. Do not live in the world as if you are the creator, as we care for our earthly needs, let us not forget the soul.
Let us always remember we have a final destination. We must depart the world one day.
The tomb reminds us of our mortality and warns us that death can come at any time, therefore we must be ready. The empty tomb is also a sign of our emptiness.
2. Also as we look into the empty tomb, we now have proof. It is proof that we can also rise, like Jesus, if we join ourselves to Him.
Paul says “But now Christ rises from the dead. He has become the first fruits of those who are asleep. ( 1 Corinthians 15:20 ).
This is a message that death is not the end for those who belong to God. It is simply a doorway that leads into a glorious eternity with Him!
3. The resurrection story is a confirmation that the power of death can never limit Jesus. The graveyard cannot withhold Him. Not even the Mighty stone can be able to stop Him. Today, even the mighty soldiers became powerless.
Matthew 28:2 says “And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was white as snow. For fear of him, the guards shook and became like dead men.
Therefore, the power of man is nothing before God. Let us know this and always humble ourselves in humility before God.
4. Despite how far we have lost hope, there is still hope. Also despite any mighty stone blocking your survival, there will be survival. Despite any mighty power that stands against you, what we need is the Mighty Power of God.
In His presence nothing is Impossible. We may live in worry like the women ask, “who will roll away this stone for me?”
We may ask “Who will save us from our dreaded sickness?”
“Who will save me from this crisis?”
We can ask “Who will save us from this sickness?
Who will save my family from these challenges and difficulties?
Beloved, involve the Resurrection Power. When we involve God’s mighty power in our lives, great happen. We will be surprised to see that the mighty stone has been rolled away even when you least expect it.
5. Let us aspire now to love like Jesus loves us and is willing to sacrifice His life for us.
Let us now bury our grudges, forgive our enemies and bring peace into our families. It is time to show love. We can summarize today’s celebration in four letters “love”.
Let us show love to the people we know and the people we do not know. As Jesus sacrifices His body to bring peace between heaven and earth, let us be willing to sacrifice anything to bring peace with anyone.
Let us seek for the welfare of others the way Jesus seeks for our good. Remember to show love today to your family, friends, siblings, spouse, and even enemies.
Let us remember to seek the salvation of those who have lost hope in God, the needy, Orphans, the broken and downtrodden.
Remember to mend that broken relationship. Do not forget to live for others. Be willing to give and sacrifice as Jesus does. In so doing, we fulfill the greatest commandment.
The greatest commandment is “love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Therefore, let us come out today and show love. Let us live as Jesus does.
6. Finally, Easter teaches us that God does not fail in His promises. Jesus promises us that He would rise from the dead and He does that. Therefore, when God promises you something, it shall come to pass no matter how long, challenging and difficult it may be.
The Easter also teaches us that there is joy at the last. Whoever sees when Jesus is carrying His cross, shedding blood and suffering will conclude that could be His dead-end.
Even the Jews think like that. But the Easter Message teaches us that no matter how thorny the journey can be, there is always a joy at last.
Therefore, Be joyful, Jesus has conquered death. Jesus has given us victory. Remember there is a victory for all who are in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 15:57). Happy Easter and God bless you.