A couple of weeks have passed since we celebrated Easter Sunday. It was a day of celebration for us as Christians, because Jesus Christ has risen. However, Easter has a much greater significance than just a mere celebration or a commemoration. Pastor Craig, in his Easter Sunday message, mentioned about having a deficient view of Jesus Christ. On the same note, I believe many of us may have a deficient view of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the empty tomb. Being in Australia all these years (about 11 to be exact), I cannot but feel that to many, Easter is somehow not as significant as Christmas, even among the Christians. The empty tomb that speaks of Christ’s resurrection calls for celebration but it is so much more than just that. Thus, it warrants a revisit of the “empty tomb” and a consideration of its significance.
The empty tomb as confirmation
What does the empty tomb mean for you? Is it a myth? Is it just symbolic? The empty tomb for us is proof that Jesus Christ has resurrected, and He has conquered sin and death. More than that, the empty tomb and Jesus Christ’s resurrection confirmed who Jesus Christ claimed Himself to be – the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Messiah of the world. His resurrection and the empty tomb were evidences of what He said would happen. In Matthew 17:22-23, Jesus spoke to his disciples saying, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him and he will be raised on the third day.” At that time, his disciples did not yet believe and could not comprehend. Afterwards, they remembered and believed. A similar claim was made by Jesus when the Jews asked him for a sign and he stated “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Even the Chief Priest and the Pharisees themselves also remembered Jesus’ claim as they approached Pilate to have guards placed at the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid after his crucifixion (Matthew 27:62-66). For them, they remembered but did not believe. The tomb was empty and Jesus Christ lives. Do you believe in that?
Witness of the empty tomb
The empty tomb and the resurrection were not just made-up stories or myths. They are historical facts. The empty tomb was witnessed by Mary Magdalene and other ladies, and these were followed by Jesus’ disciples. We are not told nor is it recorded of the Pharisees and/or the chief priest witnessing the empty tomb themselves. However, we do know that they heard about it. It was recorded that they bribed the guards to tell the story that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body (Matthew 28:11-15). One thing that is certain was that they were not in possession of Jesus Christ’s body. The story of Jesus’ disciples stealing His body when it was being guarded by Roman guards is highly impossible. However, if we were to go along with that suggestion, it would only mean that the disciples would know that Jesus was truly dead and not alive, if they had taken his body. Yet, the disciples went around preaching about a living Savior, which would be a lie that they knew. This should beget the question: why would someone be willing to die and suffer for a lie. Unless of course, it is true.
It was not just an empty tomb the disciples had witnessed but the living Savior himself as well. He appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18), the disciples (John 20:19-20) and then to “doubting” Thomas (John 20: 24-29) and to more than 500 others (1 Cor. 15:6). We preach and witness of our Savior that was seen and heard by many after His resurrection. He lives and He lives in us, His followers. The empty tomb – the resurrection of Christ – is a powerful witness. I have asked unbelievers to consider the claim of Christ and also challenged them to prove that Jesus Christ did not resurrect. If you can prove that the resurrection did not happen, you will prove that Christianity is a mere myth and untrue and Christians are all living a lie (1 Cor. 15:12-19). Would you be a witness for our living Savior and the empty tomb today and beyond?
The empty tomb as hope
Finally, the empty tomb points to not only Christ’s resurrection, confirmation and witness for Christ, but also to the fact that He is coming again – our hope. Jesus Christ has ascended and he will return (Acts 1:10-11). This hope of His return is certain. Why can we be certain? Because the Savior has come. The Savior has died. The Savior has conquered death and is alive. All these have happened as Jesus Christ and Scripture said it would. Therefore, we can be assured of the hope we have in Jesus Christ and that He will be returning to bring full and complete restoration to God’s kingdom just as He said. This hope we have is truly certain and secured. Thus, in whatever circumstances you may be in, are you holding onto this hope we have in Jesus Christ?
Easter Sunday has come and gone this year. However, what is Easter for you? Would you be like the Pharisees or others at that time who deny that the resurrection had happened? Or would you be like Christ’s disciples of old going around to proclaim that He lives? Our Christ lives and He is coming back. Halleluiah!