At The Cross The Empty Tomb
Adrian Rogers said “The resurrection is not merely important to the historic Christian faith; without it, there would be no Christianity. It is the single doctrine that elevates Christianity above all other world religions.” This week, we conclude our two week series entitled “At The Cross”. Last week, we talked about the crucifixion, and the truths of the Cross. Today, we get to celebrate His resurrection!!!!! See, the truth is that, unlike all other world religions, we as Christians get to celebrate a savior who not only died for our sins, but who then conquered the grave and rose again. The tomb is empty!!!!! He is risen!!!!! Isn’t that a beautiful thing?
I don’t know about you guys, but I love this time of year. Something about spring has always been special to me. I love seeing the grass turning green, the trees and flowers blooming, the animals coming out from hibernation. My grandparents live out in the country and I always look forward to going out there this time of year. I get to fire up the grill, walk in the woods, maybe even do some fishing. I think there’s a beautiful correlation between the beauty of nature that is seen in the springtime and the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. In springtime we witness the rebirth of creation and experience its new life. In these resurrections, we find joy, victory, and fulfilled promises.
We have a lot of scripture to cover and unpack today, so bare with me as we do this. Some of it, I may just reference, and some of it, I’ll actually type out for you. Our story is found in the book of Luke 24:1-49 (GNT), as well as Matthew 28 (NLT), and we will bounce back and forth between the two.
Luke 24:1-12 (GNT) says “Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, so they went in; but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They stood there puzzled about this, when suddenly two men in bright shining clothes stood by them. Full of fear, the women bowed down to the ground, as the men said to them, “Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here; he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was in Galilee:‘The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.’ Then the women remembered his words, returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven disciples and all the rest. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; they and the other women with them told these things to the apostles. But the apostles thought that what the women said was nonsense, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; he bent down and saw the grave cloths but nothing else. Then he went back home amazed at what had happened.”
Look at the end of verse 5 through verse 7. “Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here; he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was in Galilee;’The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.” Can you imagine what the women must have felt hearing news like this? This brings me to my first point.
1. In The Empty Tomb, We Find Joy
Imagine if you had been one of the people who were the first to stumble upon Jesus’ tomb, only to find it empty, and an angel of the Lord said to you “Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive?” How crazy would that be, but how excited would you be about it? The scripture goes on to say the women ran back to tell the disciples the good news. Most of the men did not believe them, but Peter immediately got up and ran to the grave, and it says he ran home amazed at what happened. The Greek word for amazed is ekthambeo, which literally means greatly astonished or awestruck. Matthew 28:8 (NLT) says “The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.” They were joyful because they knew that their savior had been risen. We don’t worship a dead savior. He has risen, and that, above anything else, should fill us as Christians with great comfort and joy.
In Matthew 28:9-10 (NLT), it goes on to say “And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” It then goes on in verses 11-15 to tell about the elders paying some Roman soldiers to say that the disciples had come in the night and taken Jesus’ body. In verse 16, it says “Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him – but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.” This brings me to my next point.
2. In The Empty Tomb, We Find Victory
1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV) says “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us the victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ!” Jesus defeated death forever with His resurrection. The Greek word for defeated is thriambeuo, which literally means to triumph, or to celebrate a triumph. We celebrate on this Easter Sunday because Christ has triumphed over death and over sin. C.S. Lewis writes “The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits,’ the pioneer of life,’ He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so.”One of my favorite worship songs is What A Beautiful Name It Is. Part of the lyrics go like this:
Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast, of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again
We now can share in his resurrection and therefore his Victory as well. “God gives us victory over sin and death,” Paul tells the church at Corinth. Because of Jesus’ triumph, we no longer fear death, sin has lost its power to hold us by the insurmountable grace of our Father, and we are brought into a new life, a new relationship with our Creator, and a new family of his people. “That is exactly what we celebrate this and every Easter. My last point is this.
3. In The Empty Tomb, We Find The Promise Fulfilled
Hosea 6:2 (CSB) tells of the coming resurrection perfectly. It says “He will revive us after two days, and on the third day he will wake us up so we can live in his presence.” Jesus Himself prophesied that He would be crucified, and would raise to life three days later (Matthew 16:21 ESV). As a father, it is important that I keep the promises I make to my kids. Last weekend was my girlfriend’s son’s birthday. I bought him a baseball glove, and promised that I would teach him to throw and to catch, and the next day, we did exactly that. God promised us that He would resurrect Jesus on the third day, and He kept His promise. John MacArthur said “The truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth. The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would matter. Without the resurrection, Christianity would be so much wishful thinking, taking it’s place alongside all other human philosophy and religious speculation.” The resurrection is the truth that defeats every lie, and it was referred to several times. Isaiah 53:10-11 (NLT) says “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” We find the promise again in Psalm 16:10 (NLT), where David says “For you will not leave my soul among the dead, or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.” God sent His Son to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world, but He also sent Him to have victory once and for all over death, just as He promised He would.
Easter is a time of celebration for us as Christians, but it is also a time of reflection. Where are you right now? What’s going on in your life? Do you know Jesus? I pray that, wherever you are in your life, you would consider the truth of the crucifixion and the resurrection this Easter weekend. Jesus paid the ultimate price to reconcile us to God, then rose again three days later. Because of that resurrection, we also have victory over death. We know how the story ends and that knowledge brings those who follow Him beautiful joy and assurance. If you have not yet accepted Him, I would encourage you to speak to someone about it. This weekend is a weekend where a lot of people who don’t normally go to church will consider doing so, so if you’re considering it, I encourage you to take that step and if you are one who normally attends, I implore you to welcome and share your joy with those who are new.
Father, we thank You for the Cross, and for the empty tomb. We thank You that You conquered death, and that we can have peace in that. Lord, this Easter weekend, we pray that You would touch the hearts of those who are lost, and that You would open their eyes to the truth that is found in that empty tomb. We thank You for loving us enough to send Your Son to die for our sins, and we thank You that He did not stay dead, but rose again. It’s in Your Holy Name we pray, Amen.
Next week, we will be starting a new series called #realtalk. This series is going to be a very candid look at the moments when we reach the point of having nothing left but Jesus. I’m very excited to be adding some new voices to our ministry as we begin this new series, and I look forward to seeing what God does through these messages.
If you need to talk to someone about your faith, or if you have any questions about what it means to become a follower of Jesus, feel free to message us. We actually set up the messenger on here, so you can do that now, and all of us here at The Journey would love to talk with you and help you take the next step in your walk with Christ. Have a happy Easter, and a blessed week!!!!!