On numerous occasions during the earthly ministry of Jesus, He taught in parable, alluded to and even clearly stated that He would be crucified, buried and then be raised on the third day. Mark records that as they passed through Galilee, “he taught his disciples, and said, unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day” (Mark 9:30-31). After being crucified on the cross at Calvary, He was buried in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea (Matt. 27:50-60). Then, upon the first day of the week, early in the morning, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome came to the tomb to anoint His body Mark 16:1-2) only to find the tomb empty Instead of seeing the body of Jesus in the tomb, they saw an angel who said to them, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6). That empty tomb speaks volumes.
The empty tomb declares the truth that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Simon Peter, while on the coast of Caesarea Philippi, had confessed that he believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God and the Lord said that it was the Father in heaven that had revealed that to Peter (Matt. 16:15-17). On that morning when the duo of Mary’s arrived at the tomb, the emptiness of that tomb made the same declaration as had Peter. The apostle Paul wrote, “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made 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” (Rom. 1:3-4). This empty tomb was the fulfillment of prophecy. The sweet Psalmist of Israel wrote, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). There would be no decomposition of the body of the Holy One, for He would not remain in the tomb long enough for that.
On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter used the power of the empty tomb to prick the hearts of the listeners. Peter used the tomb of David as an example of what normally occurs. He said of David, “that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day” (Acts 2:29). The same could have been said of numerous great men in the ancestry of the Jews. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had all died and been buried. Whatever remains were left after all those years, they remain in their tombs. Yet, the tomb of Jesus was bare as was prophesied by David (Acts 2:30-32).
The fifteenth chapter of the book of First Corinthians is often called the resurrection chapter of the Bible. In this chapter the apostle Paul begins by stating that he preached the death of Christ for the sins of man, the burial of Christ and the resurrection of Christ (I Cor. 15:1-4). One could say he preached the empty tomb. He goes on to point out that ample proof has been provided to bring about belief in this empty tomb in any willing to recognize the truth when they see it. The ultimate proof was not in that the tomb was empty, but in that Christ had come out of the tomb and still lived. Paul states that “he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present” (I Cor. 15:5-6). Paul then connects the dots showing the end result if Joseph of Arimathaea’s tomb was not empty the third day. First, “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain” (I Cor. 15:14). The preaching of the apostles as well as the other first century Christians was all based upon Christ being the Son of God. It was the resurrection that proved Him to be the Son of God with power (Rom. 1:4). If Jesus did not rise, then the salvation that those preachers proclaimed was not real, their preaching was worthless. But, the text goes on to say that if He be not risen, “your faith is also vain” To believe that which is not true is worthless. In fact, it is worse than worthless, for to do so will lead one down a path that is detrimental to one’s well being. This is the reason that we exert so much effort in getting people to study for themselves the word of God, that they might know for sure what is truth and what is error. Faith in error is a vain faith. Not only is your faith vain if the tomb was not empty, but you are yet in your sins. Paul said, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (I Cor. 15:17). Jesus said, “if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). Without the empty tomb, one’s faith is vain. And, without faith one cannot have their sins forgiven. It is the blood of Christ, shed on the cross that washes away sin (Rev. 1:5; Heb. 9:12), but only for those who have taken advantage of the offering. It takes faith to become one of the sons of God (John 1:12).
When one realizes the unraveling of the entire system of Christianity that will occur if the tomb is determined not to have been empty, it becomes evident just how much power there is in the empty tomb.
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