In Jerusalem there is a tomb. A humble tomb carved out of the rock. A hole in the earth meant for one purpose; lay to rest a life that has ended. Like any other tomb, it was meant be a final resting place. But this particular tomb is special. Different. This tomb has a unique quality to it. This tomb is empty. A body that had breathed it’s last breath was once laid to rest in this tomb, but is no longer there. The body of a Man that had been beaten, scourged, tortured and left for dead, nailed to a cross, was laid in this tomb. But three days later, He rolled the stone away that once held Him in and stepped out. He emerged victorious over death. Who is this Man that death could not hold? He is Jesus Christ. The Messiah.
One might argue that His followers came and stole His body away in the night to make it appear that He had risen from the dead just as He said He would. However, the religious leaders were so afraid of this new movement that was beginning because of Jesus. This new following that they had no control over. They wanted to end it. Stop it in it’s tracks before it gained any more momentum. They posted a strong Roman military guard of soldiers at the tomb to keep anyone from coming to take the body of Jesus away. The disciples of Jesus would not be able to breach that guard.
Another might argue that the religious leaders or the Romans stole His body away for a hoax of some sort. But when the disciples started preaching about His resurrection, all they would need to do to stop these men is to produce the body and show that He hadn’t risen after all. They were so afraid of this movement, as were the Romans, that they would’ve gladly done so.
No. Something else happened. Something that sparked a movement in such a way that Christianity has grown and thrived throughout the centuries. Those first disciples died for their faith. They faced imprisonment, persecution, beatings, exile, and death all for their belief in the risen Lord Jesus. Why would they go through such great torture and to their death for this faith? Because they knew, without a doubt that He had risen from the dead. After stepping out of this tomb, He went to them. He walked with them. He ate with them. Then, He ascended into heaven right in front of them. They gladly faced persecution and went to their deaths because they knew their Lord was alive. Their God and King had risen from the dead just as He promised and they knew that nothing could keep them from Him. Not even death, because He had already conquered it.
So, why did Jesus die in the first place? If He is God and all powerful, why would He allow Himself to be beaten, whipped, and hung on a cross to die? The answer is simple, yet extremely powerful; Love.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” What a powerful statement. This one verse, bringing everything into focus, shows us how much God loves us. We have all made mistakes. We have all broken God’s perfect law in one way or another. We have all been separated from God by our mistakes. We even say it ourselves all the time, “nobody is perfect.” How can we hope to be forgiven of our mistakes? How can we hope, being imperfect people, to be reconciled to a perfect and Holy God? Simple. He stepped out of Heaven and became a Man. Walking here among us he healed the sick, raised the dead, taught the religious leaders the truth about who God really is, and then died in our place so we could live. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” His statement to us couldn’t be more clear. Without Him we face God’s righteous judgement for our mistakes. But with Him, through the work He completed on that cross, we are forgiven. Through His triumph over the grave, we have life. Through faith in Him, we are restored.
How does one put their faith in Jesus? We ask Him. We simply tell Him we’re sorry. We admit that we’ve fallen short of His standard of perfection and put all our hope and faith in Jesus’ perfect righteousness that He provides on our behalf. We confess that He is God, Lord of all creation, and Lord over us. We trust in His love and provision for us and choose to follow Him. He is God. He is Lord. He loves us enough to die for us, and He did.
He is risen. The tomb is empty.