“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
The whole foundation of the Christian faith is hinged on the death and resurrection of Jesus. This truth can be found in Paul’s statement in 1st Corinthians 15:17
"And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!"
The empty tomb signifies the resurrection of Jesus, the fact that Jesus died and rose again. This means those of us who have repented and believed in Him, have been forgiven and our sins have been washed away.
The four gospels describe the events surrounding the discovery of the empty tomb in Mathew 28:1-6, Mark 16:1-7, Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1-12. These writers all attest to the fact that the women went there on the Easter morning and found the tomb empty.
What is so interesting about this discovery is the fact that when Jesus was buried in this tomb, we are told that a large stone had been rolled to guard the tomb so that the disciples will not steal His body. Additionally, guards had been placed outside the tomb.
Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid. (Mark15:46)
These women observed where Jesus was laid, so they knew where to go. Very early Sunday morning, first day of the week they went back to the place wondering who will roll the stone away to enable them anoint the body of Jesus, they found the stone had been rolled away and the tomb empty. Mark 16:4, Luke 24:2 and John 20:1.
What could this mean? In the minds of these women, Jesus’ body had been stolen.
"But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” (John 20:11)
Mary did not realise that Jesus has been raised from the dead as God had promised in His word in Psalm 16:10
"For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption."
The word Sheol could mean either the grave or hell. As prophesied by King David, God by His spirit raised Christ from the dead.
Jesus now reveals Himself to Mary. The Bible tells us that Jesus also revealed Himself not just to Mary but to the other disciples and many more saw Him.
Luke 24:34 - Saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
Mathew 28: 9-10 - "And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
Many sceptics have tried to ridicule the resurrection truth. Even the Sanhedrin paid the guards to lie that the disciples had come in the night to steal the body. How could that be? When the guards watching knew they face a death penalty if that happened.
How could mere fishermen overpower these guards who were trained for combat and had weapons?
Even if they had overpowered the guards how was the stone rolled away? We find the answer in scripture in Mathew 28:2 - "And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it."
It said that a historian named Michael Grant; a sceptic of the resurrection wrote and said “….. if we apply the same sort of criteria that we would apply to any other ancient literary sources, then the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty”
In conclusion, it is not what a historian says that makes the truth of the empty tomb central to our faith. The truth is that tomb was found empty because death could not hold down the giver of life Himself.
The transforming power of God is made manifest in our lives, those of us who have put our trust in Jesus Christ the anointed one, we know beyond every reasonable doubt, that because He lives we shall live and reign with Him also. We know that His promises are true because of His resurrection. There is victory for the Church, because Christ is risen and the tomb is empty.
Paul writing to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15 says …"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
Someday, I don’t know when but other tombs will be empty, because death has been defeated, there would be no weeping, no more tears. We the Church will rise up victorious to meet with Him in the air and those living on this earth who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour will also rise to meet with Him.
The tomb was found empty because Jesus proved to be who He said He is, the only begotten of the father who takes away the sins of the world. The One who has power over death and sin.
The stone has been rolled away.
The tomb is empty.