He Is Risen
28 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 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. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 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. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to bring His disciples word.
This afternoon, I want us to examine one of the Bible’s eyewitness accounts of what happened on that first Easter – resurrection morning. I want to share with you a very simple outline. Two Indisputable facts, two imperative commands and one inescapable conclusion.
First: The Two Indisputable Facts.
As one examines what the eyewitnesses discover-ed on the first Easter morning, there are two facts that cannot be disputed. The first indisputable fact is that the Tomb is Empty. The borrowed tomb in which that they had lay the body of Jesus on that Friday evening is now empty.
The King of kings, who had so little of this world’s goods, if it were not for the goodness of Joseph of Arimathea, he would not have even had a place to be buried. But Nicodemus and Joseph had gone to Pontius Pilate and requested the body of Jesus be released into their care for burial. Surprised that Jesus was already dead, Pilate granted their request. I want you to note that the fact that tomb was empty seemed to surprise everyone.
The tomb is empty contrary to the Precautions of His enemies…
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So, the last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
His enemies at least seemed to remember that Jesus had said that He would rise from the dead after the third day. So, the enemies of Jesus went to Pilate and said, “We are afraid that His disciples will come and steal the body of Jesus and then tell everyone that Jesus has risen from the grave. So we would like to post a guard to make sure that does not happen.” I love the response of Pilate to these men, “Go make the tomb as secure as you know how.” I’m sure that Pilate did not realize how prophetic his words would be. Nevertheless, guards were posted to make sure no one stole the body of Jesus.
The tomb is empty contrary to the Expectations of His Friends. There were a variety of reactions among the friends and followers of Jesus to the news of His death. Some such as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, and some of the women made plans for and arrangements for his burial, apparently only concerned that His body be properly cared for.
Others fled out of fear for their safely. Some gave themselves over to being depressed and sad Some hid themselves and when they heard the news of His resurrection… they refused to believe.
9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. 12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.
The second indisputable fact is that- He Is Not Here, He is Risen! (v. 6a) “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
The tomb really is empty. Even the critics do not deny that the tomb is empty, only why it is empty! But His enemies surely did not steal the body of Jesus, for they would have produced the body when the claims were made that He was risen. His disciples surely did not steal the body, for they would not have been willing to die a martyr’s death for a lie. “They were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming (that he was risen), without any payoff from a human point of view. They faced a life of hardship. They often went without food, … were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned. And finally, most of them were executed in torturous ways. For what? For good intentions? No because they were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had seen Jesus Christ alive from the dead.”
The facts are simple enough, the tomb is empty and He is not here for He has risen!
Secondly, Two Imperative Commands.
The women, who come to the tomb with the expectation of caring for the body of Jesus, are met by an angelic messenger with a very specific invitation! “Come and See”
The women are given the invitation to “Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (v. 6b). There were perhaps many reasons why they would have been hesitant to follow the invitation to “come and see.” After all… they are in a cemetery just as dawn is breaking. It was undoubtedly a kind of creepy place to be. They also had reason to fear the authorities, by the proclamation of Rome, the tomb had been sealed by Pontius Pilate and guarded by soldiers. They could have been in trouble for even being near the tomb of Jesus. And there is also the troubling thought that perhaps they were now treading on holy ground.
But the angel invites them to come and see - that they might compare what they have heard, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said,” (v. 6) - with what they now saw with their own eyes. The angel told them to “come see the place where the Lord lay” (past tense) – He is not there any longer. “Go and Tell” (v. 7a) “And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead…”
Third, One Inescapable Conclusion:
In the case of Jesus, the issue is not just the absence of a body. An empty tomb does not in and of its self, make a resurrection. It was not just that He was nowhere to be found. It is that He was seen, repeatedly by many people in many different places. The point I want to make is the disciples did not merely “believe” in the resurrection, they “knew” it as a historical fact because they had seen Him themselves.
Writing of the event many years later the Apostle Paul wrote in…
1 Corinthians 15:3-7
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
Paul either personally knew some of the people who had seen the resurrected Jesus or had spoken to some people who knew them and that they were still living and could verify that the resurrection was true. Paul’s statement virtually invites those who do not believe to check it out for themselves. But because He is Risen - the resurrection does prove all that needs to be proven about the message of Christianity.
• Jesus Is Who He Said He Was.
He predicted that He would die, but that the grave would not be able to hold Him, this miraculous act proved Jesus was the indeed the Son of God. Jesus’ resurrection confirmed His identity. We can believe in Jesus. Jesus is the unique Son of God and He is fully divine.
• Jesus’ Resurrection Bought Us Life.
The Bible says sin earns us death. On the cross, Jesus took the penalty of our sins on Himself. His death paid the debt our sins earned. But His Resurrection overcame the power of death. If we believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was on our behalf, Scripture says our debt is canceled, and we gain eternal life. Because Jesus rose from the grave, we too shall rise victorious over the grave.
• Such News Can’t Be Contained.
Mary immediately went and told the disciples. And in verse twenty-one, right after Jesus appeared to the disciples, He Said to them, “As The Father Has sent me, I Am sending you.” The life-giving message of Jesus’ identity and resurrection are a gift we are called to share with others. We can’t keep it to ourselves.
We have faced two Indisputable Facts; The Tomb is Empty and He was Not Here, Because He is Risen! Along with the disciples we have also received two imperative commands: “Come and See” And “Go and tell.” Which leaves one inescapable conclusion. The resurrection proves all that needs to be proven about the message of Christianity.
As soon as we reach that verdict we must wrestle with the implications. Jesus overcame the grave, He is alive, and it possible for me to have a personal encounter with Him today. He did go to the cross and personally pay the penalty for my sin! He did conquer death, and so He can open the door for eternity for me.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
You see…to the world, the resurrection of Jesus is very hard to believe. There were those that witnessed Jesus bring the dead back to life and yet…when Jesus Himself rose from the dead, they doubted. Sadly…even today many chose not to believe. Where do stand on “The Empty Tomb?” If God has already called you to be His own, then your life is already in Christ. If not???
Let me just remind you, that its not too late. Ask any Christian in here and they will tell you… “Jesus lives!” You just have too believe. Pray to God to remove doubts. Pray for forgiveness…pray to Jesus to your Lord and Savior.
Pastor Richard Santos
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