It is Sunday. Easter. The day we celebrate the empty tomb – a symbol of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Friday, He was crucified unjustly by the Roman government; died hanging on an Roman cross and was buried in a grave owned by a family friend.
Dead. As in not breathing. No synaptic activity whatsoever. Some have theorized that he wasn’t really dead, just mostly dead and somehow got better in the confines of a stone tomb without any medical assistance. First – that’s just silly. Second (and most importantly), if the Romans felt the need to crucify you, they made darn sure you were dead before they took you down from the cross.
Given the pressure from the Jewish religious leaders that put Christ up there to begin with, this would certainly be true in this situation. You see, the Romans designed crucifixion to be the most horrible form of capital punishment ever conceived and they were very good at making sure everyone knew how effective it was. So, their reputation was on the line to make sure those that hung on a cross came down good and dead.
Jesus was surely dead before He was laid in the tomb. Loosely prepared with burial wraps as was surely customary – both culturally and religiously. The Bible allows us to see what happened on that first Easter morning as Mary came to the tomb to finish the burial preparations:
1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. [John 20:1-9]
Mary went to the tomb, saw that it was empty and ran back to tell the others – the same group that has been in complete despair for the past 36 hours. Then Peter and John came to investigate and they confirmed what Mary had seen.
There’s a saying Christians say on Easter. One person will say, “He is risen!” and then another would reply, “He is risen indeed!” I can just imagine that this came from this very account. I can just see Mary saying, “He is risen! Go and see.” And then Peter and John coming back and saying, “He is risen indeed!”
How wonderful is that news! It meant that their Lord wasn’t dead any longer – that He had indeed conquered death…just like He said He would and His promise of eternal life with Him could now be possible.
So, I have one thing left to say:
H E I S R I S E N !