What an amazing morning it must have been. Friday, everything looked so dark. Jesus, beaten and ridiculed, was led to the cross. They watched in horror and unbelief as the Roman soldiers nailed Him to the cross and hung him between two common thieves. All their dreams, trust, and belief died with Him on that cross. They thought He was the Messiah about to bring the long awaited Kingdom of God to fulfillment. They hoped He would establish an earthly kingdom that would drive the Romans out and set themselves up as rulers in the new nation; but it wasn’t to be. When He died late Friday afternoon they watched and followed as Joseph and Nicodemus took the body and laid Him in the tomb.
Saturday was their rest day, but I am sure there was no resting during that twenty-four hour period. Instead they felt only anguish and pain. They gave up everything to follow Jesus and it led to a Cross. Every plan they made, every ambition and every dream that swirled through their head for all those years were gone. Nothing He said, did or taught prepared them for the crucifixion, immense disappointment and hurt they were going through. They loved Him with all their hearts and trusted Him with every fiber of their being and now He was gone and they were alone to start their lives a new.
Then Sunday morning Mary, Jesus’ Mother, and at least two other women went to the tomb to anoint the body. The Gospel of Mark tells us that the women were wondering, “who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb?” But, they didn’t need to wonder for long, because when they looked up the stone was rolled away. Wondering what happened, they rushed into the tomb and to their amazement a young man, dressed in white, was sitting there waiting for them. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, ‘you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See, the place whence they laid Him. But go; tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” Mark 16: 6-7
In those three short words, “He has risen,” Christianity was born. Nothing else mattered, the teachings, the promises, and the crucifixion if the tomb wasn’t empty. If Jesus, stayed in the grave He would have died a needless death and all that He suffered would have been for nothing. But, He was risen, and with the resurrection we, who were dead to sins, are made alive. The Father accepted Jesus sacrifice, and as a result the gates of Heaven are open wide. All our hope, and all our future hinged on Easter morning. With the empty tomb we have assurance that salvation is assured for anyone who believes and puts their trust in Jesus. All that Jesus promised during His three and a half years of preaching and teaching concerning our salvation was fulfilled Friday on the Cross and Easter morning with the empty tomb.
Not only was He resurrected, but also the angel told them where to find Him. Over the next few weeks, hundreds, if not thousands of people, including all the disciples, and the women who came to the tomb, would see him.
What a difference Sunday made in comparison to Friday. In our own lives we often can’t see beyond the present difficulties and hurt, we find it difficult to believe there is a Sunday in our life. No matter how hard life may seem we can’t give up hope, because Jesus rose on Sunday. On the day of Pentecost the disciples went out into the streets of Jerusalem and preached with power and authority because of what happened that Easter Sunday. No longer were they afraid and cowering in the upper room; they had experienced the risen Christ. God gives us that same power, through the Holy Spirit, to live with trust and assurance, because He made everything possible through that amazing weekend that led from Golgotha to the empty tomb. Our encounter with the risen Christ is as close as a prayer of acceptance and the reality of an empty tomb.