They had watched the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea take the lifeless body of Jesus down from the cross and then lay him in an unused tomb he owned. They marked where the body was laid, and quickly went home to prepare the spices needed for a full and proper burial. Then they took their Sabbath rest on Saturday, waiting one holy day before paying their last respects to the teacher they loved.
These faithful women watched Jesus die a horrible death from a distance. They were cut to the heart by it. They mourned and lamented over Him. So much hope they had, and it ended this way. We can only imagine the disappointment, depression and confusion that plagued their hearts and minds. All hope was gone, but not their love for Jesus. They desired to honor Him in death.
He was mocked and spit upon, paraded through the streets. Jesus turned to the faithful women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:28-31)
They drove nails through His hands and feet. He was crucified between two thieves. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Some cast lots to divide his clothing, others mocked and scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”
On that Sunday morning, at early dawn, these faithful women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They expected to find a dead body and intended to perform the last honoring act of true devotion that they could for their great and gracious Lord. They were concerned about how they would roll the stone away. But when they arrived there, to their great horror, Jesus was missing!
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus! Now they were even more confused and hurt. To add insult to injury, someone apparently stole the body of Jesus. How could people be so evil and cruel? The empty tomb intensified their severe distress.
“While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:4) They might have thought, “Well, don’t you find dead people in graveyards?” These were not men they were talking to, but angels.
The angels continued, “He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.” (Luke 24:4)
The angels proclaimed the joyous Easter message: “He is not here; he his risen!” The women now remembered the words of Jesus. They now understood. The light came on and they became the first messengers of what they had seen and heard.
The disciples did not invent the resurrection story. At first, they neither understood it or believed it. They had to witness it themselves. As Alexander Maclaren observed, “The evidential value of the disciples’ slowness to believe cannot be overrated.” The apostles became devoted, even to the death, because they saw the empty tomb and met their risen Lord and came to believe the Word of God: “… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).
Despite the chronic bad news on the television, the most important thing to know and understand is that there is good news. There’s good news from the graveyard that Easter morning that has split time and changed lives. There is good news that the tomb is empty. There is good news that Jesus rose from the dead. There is good news that the devil couldn’t hold him. Good news that death has lost its sting. Good news that the grave has lost its victory. Good news that if you believe in Jesus you need not fear death any more. Not because you are now brave, but because now you know who is on the other side. It is Jesus. You can bet your whole life on it.
The great evangelist D.L. Moody of Northfield, Massachusetts, did. He said, "Some day you will read in the papers, 'D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead.' Don't you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.”
Jesus not only appeared to the women. He appeared to Peter later in the day and to the Emmaus disciples. He appeared to the apostles without Thomas and the apostles with Thomas present. To the seven by the Lake of Tiberias. To a multitude of 500 plus believers on a Galilean mountain. To James, to the eleven when He gave them the Great Commission, at the ascension, to Paul, to Stephen and to John on the isle of Patmos. Jesus had been resurrected from the dead and there were ample witnesses to this historical fact. They saw Him and talked with Him and touched Him.
Chuck Colson served as Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973. Once known as President Nixon's "hatchet man," Colson gained notoriety at the height of the Watergate scandal, for being named as one of the Watergate Seven, and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. He became a Christian in prison. He once said, “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
The empty tomb—the silent testimony to the resurrection of Christ—has never been refuted. "We have no tomb in Christianity because we have no corpse." Men and women still reject the Resurrection, not because of the insufficiency of evidence, but despite its sufficiency.
When Michelangelo visited several great art galleries in European cities, he was deeply impressed by the preponderance of paintings depicting Christ hanging on the cross. He asked, “Why are art galleries filled with so many pictures of Christ upon the cross—Christ dying? Why do artists concentrate upon that passing episode, as if that were the last word and the final scene? Christ’s dying on the cross lasted for only a few hours. But to the end of unending eternity, Christ is alive! Christ rules and reigns and triumphs!”
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
Let us rededicate ourselves during this season to a lifetime of letting the resurrection have its radical effects in our lives. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12) Death has died because Christ has died and rose again. He has solved the biggest problem of humanity. He has defeated death. As Adrian Rogers put it, “Death is only a comma to a Christian now, not a period!”
"Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 1:11). Will you acknowledge Him as your Lord today and receive Him as your Savior, or will you go your own way and face Him as your judge who will consign you to the resurrection of the damned?
Tim Keller observes that “there are mountains of documentary and physical evidence for His resurrection and you have nothing to disprove it, just unbelief arising out of your love for sin and reluctance to surrender to the sovereign Savior.”
“Every person will be resurrected. Some to the resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of damnation. The same message that comforts the afflicted can afflict the comfortable,” aptly observed Robert Shaw.
Come to Jesus now and live forever! Eternity is irreversible, and it is only a heartbeat away. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” The answer is either, NO, or YES, LORD. Those two marvelous, life-changing, eternal destiny changing words are YES, LORD.
Do yourself the greatest service this weekend. Come to a church service this Sunday at a church where the truth of Jesus Christ is preached and proclaimed. Don’t be afraid. Get connected. Don’t put it off any longer. Satan’s favorite word is “tomorrow.” If he can get someone to keep putting off thinking about his salvation until tomorrow, he has them right where he wants them. God says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) Be saved from the grave!