Lessons From The Empty Tomb

This Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single greatest event in the history of the world—and the cornerstone of the Christian faith. In fact, 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 (built on Scripture) for salvation.
You see, without the resurrection there is no Christian faith, no salvation—and no hope for man.
As Paul the Apostle said, “If Christ is not risen, 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 life than this.”
However Paul went on to say, “But now Christ is risen from the dead and is the first fruits from the grave of those who have died believing in Jesus.”
The truth of the resurrection was first proclaimed to the women who came to the tomb early that Sunday morning to finish preparing Jesus body for burial.
Matthew 28:5-6 (NKJV)
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
What should we see when we “look” into the tomb?
Years ago, Charles Spurgeon preached a message on this verse in which he suggested five things.
1.   We should see the condescension of Jesus Christ.
John 3:13 (NKJV)
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT)
Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross.
We should marvel at the condescension of such an amazing God, that He would leave His exalted throne in heaven to come to earth, be crucified and placed in a tomb to save us.
2.   We should see the horror of our sin—for it was our sin that put him there.
Death is the punishment for sin, as God said—“the soul that sins shall surely die”, but Jesus had no sin; He was sinless—why then did Jesus die?  The answer is clear:
Isaiah 53:5-6 (NLT)
But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.
When we look into the tomb, we should see the horror of our sin and develop a proper hatred for it.  Sin—all sin—in whatever vile form it takes is an affront to God Who is absolutely pure and holy.
He cannot bear to look upon sin (in a favorable way) and can have no fellowship with anyone defiled by it—unless that sin is atoned for or covered. But as Spurgeon said, “you can’t cover something as vile as sin with taffeta and lace”—it takes blood which means something or Someone had to die.
In the Old Testament that something was the blood of the animal sacrifices which God allowed to temporarily cover His peoples’ sins until the ultimate sacrifice would be offered.  That ultimate sacrifice was Someonethe Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who alone could take away the sin of the world.
Sin is so wicked in the eyes of God that it brings instant separation from Him and only a blood sacrifice can atone for it—Jesus became that blood sacrifice, a sacrifice who died in our place—it’s what the theologians call ‘penal substitution’.
3.   We should look into the tomb to be reminded that we too will die.
Unless the rapture happens during our lifetime, we will all someday be made to taste death.
The tomb reminds us of our mortality and warns us that death can come at any time—therefore we must be ready because, as the Bible teaches, our life is like a puff of smoke that is here one minute and gone the next.
Ecclesiastes 7:2 (NKJV)
Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart.
4.   The most important truth of all as we look into the empty tomb—we see that Jesus is not in it—
He is risen and has conquered death.
The empty tomb is one of the great evidences 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—that there is not one attempt to deny that the tomb was empty.
Of course that doesn’t mean the atheists, skeptics and antagonists of Christianity accept the empty tomb as proof that Jesus rose from the dead—they offer different explanations as to why it was empty—
*    The disciples stole the body and then fabricated the resurrection story.
*    The Romans took the body of Jesus down from the cross and threw it into a shallow grave.
First, if the disciples had stolen the body, they would not have been willing to die, as many of them later did, for what they knew was a lie. Secondly, if the Romans had done that with Jesus’ the body, they would have produced it later when the resurrection was proclaimed by Jesus’ followers.
The only adequate explanation of the empty tomb is that Jesus had been raised from the dead—not to mention the eye witness testimony of His disciples that they had seen the risen Christ!
5.   We should look into the empty tomb as proof that we shall also rise, as Jesus did, if we are joined to Him.
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NKJV)
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Jesus said, “Because I live you will live also”
I read a story about a little girl whose daddy tearfully said to her one summer day,
“Honey, mommy is dying. She has cancer, there’s nothing more the doctors can do. By the time the leaves fall off the trees, mommy will be gone.”
As the weeks passed and the leaves began to turn colors and fall, one day the father looked out the window and saw his precious little daughter in the front yard with a ball of string in her hand trying to tie the leaves back onto the branches of the trees—she was trying to stop the inevitable from happening.
Death is inevitable—but is it final?
Many centuries ago, Job asked the question, “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:14)
He then went on to answer that question when he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another…” (Job 19:25-27)
Of course, Job was talking about the resurrection of God’s people someday.
The message of Scripture has always been a message of resurrection hope—a message that death is not the end for those who belong to God—but simply a doorway that leads into a glorious eternity with Him!
John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?”