We most often embrace two foundational truths when we come to the Biblical account of Easter. One is the crucifixion of Christ, and the other is His resurrection. That is as it should be. But just for a moment, let me direct your attention to another cornerstone of our redemption –‘the empty tomb’. There may be some variation in the perspectives of the four Gospel writers as they report the early arrivals to the tomb. Who came first, how many initially arrived, and when show slight differences. There is however great unanimity on the fact that the tomb was empty when they arrived.
As Jesus’ followers came to the sepulcher that resurrection morning, they all reported the tomb was empty. For example, Luke reports, “And they entered in (the sepulchre), and found not the body of the Lord Jesus (Luke 24:3).” The empty tomb was no idle tale of grief stricken disciples. Across the ages, some have thought it was an idle tale, but the church says it wasn’t. In fact, the church stakes it existence on the empty tomb.
The society of the day, in the part of the world where Jesus lived, was greatly influence by Greek and Roman cultures. Almost everyone believed in what was called “the immortality of the soul.” That belief seems to have been held by the women who came to the tomb the first Easter morning. Perhaps that helps explain why Mary’s first reaction was, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2). If she only believed in the immortality of the soul, then she would have thought the spirit was gone, but there was a body somewhere. But, there was no dead body! The body had been raised to life just like He said. The truth of His teaching depended on the empty tomb.
The difference between the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body is no small matter for our Christian faith. That’s why Paul said, “And if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
The immortality of the soul is about a belief in man’s indomitable spirit and little more. It was the conviction that at death man becomes a disembodied spirit. The resurrection of the body is about God’s unspeakable love. It’s about God’s power to create, redeem, restore, and resurrect the body. Easter is not about the immorality of the human spirit. Easter is about the power of the Father to redeem your life from whatever it is that keeps you from the fullness of everlasting life with Him. The empty tomb is a symbol that not even the last enemy, death itself, can stop God from keeping His promises. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is our blessed assurance. I believe in the empty tomb and the resurrection of the body.
“And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise us up by His own power.”
1 Corinthians 6:14
~ Brother Roy