The Meaning and Message of the Empty Tomb

By Pastor Alex Rockwell

Recently, the world observed Resurrection Sunday- rejoicing in the truth that Christ has risen from the grave. But when He died and was buried, his disciples were in total despair. In his gospel, Luke described the experience of certain godly women. Knowing that Christ had died, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. They must have been shocked when they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Luke wrote, “…then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” This must have been a huge surprise to these devoted women, who came, expecting to find the dead body of their beloved Savior. They found only an empty tomb. What is the significance of that empty tomb?
In addition to the historic truth of His physical, bodily resurrection, there is a wider and greater message for us. It is as though Jesus was saying, “I have fulfilled my promise to you that in three days following my death, I will rise again. “Jesus is saying to His disciples and to Christians living today, I want you to know and experience the truth that you can trust the words I have spoken to you.
Please note four incredibly important truths: First, the foundational truth preached in the early years of the church’s history was Christ’s resurrection. Second, the resurrection was the cornerstone of the early church’s creed. Third, After Christ’s resurrection, there was a dramatic change in the disciples. They went from despair at His death, to become courageous men and women whom nothing could shake. Fourth, the resurrection of Christ is mentioned in one way or another, no less than 104 times in the New Testament. What then was the life changing meaning of this preeminent truth of the early church? And what message did they take from it?
They discovered that Christ has been declared to be the Son of God, according to Romans 1:4 which says, “concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. “They learned that He will one day judge the world in righteousness. That is evident from Acts 17:31 where we read, “He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” That is the meaning of the Empty Tomb. What now is its message to us today, in 2017?
In Matthew 28: 5 & 6 it is written, “But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.” These words can mean only one thing: We can trust Jesus for the salvation of our souls. Paul affirmed this when He was inspired to write, “If you shall confess with your mouth, the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” It also means that by His resurrection, Christ has conquered death for us all. The writer of Hebrews states, “… Jesus, who, for the suffering of death that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” And Timothy tells us that our “Savior Jesus Christ, has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Jesus promised, “Because I live, you shall live also. This is the meaning and message of the empty tomb. It is now up to us to respond by inviting the risen Savior to come into our lives. Because by His death at Calvary He has made it possible to be forgiven, and by His resurrection, He has made it possible for us to receive the gift of eternal life.