The Empty Tomb
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NKJV
Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross and buried in a borrowed tomb, but on the third day He arose; and those who went to His grave—first the women, and afterwards both the women and Peter and John—found an empty tomb (John 20:1-8). He was resurrected from the dead!
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the heart of the Gospel message. Without the resurrection, we have nothing to stand on as believers, and our faith in Christ Jesus would be in vain (1 Cor. 15:14, 17). Jesus’ bodily resurrection tells us that the grave could not hold Him and that He demonstrated power over death. This in-refutable fact holds the promise that we too, who believe, will also have victory over death (1 Cor. 15:55). The empty tomb is the evidence that Jesus is not dead; He is alive and well (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25).
Both the cross and the empty tomb are significant in the Christian faith. Why? The cross symbolizes our atoning sacrifice for sin (John 1:29; Heb. 9:22). It is also the universal symbol of Christianity, but it has no saving power. The cross (timber of a tree) was an instrument of capital punishment and suffering and shame. It only symbolizes what Jesus did (1 Peter 2:24). And, the empty tomb is a symbol of the resurrection and victory over death—speaks of what Jesus is doing right now in the lives of believers. The empty tomb gives us the hope of our victory over death and our resurrection.
Much is said and sung about the cross, but little or nothing about the empty tomb; believers even wear and display crosses as a symbol of their faith. Some will even hang a cross around their neck. But why do we hang a cross around our neck but not an empty an empty tomb? Jesus is no longer on the cross; He is not dead, He has risen! It is the empty tomb that tomb demonstrates that death is not the end for us but only a new beginning in the presence of the risen One (1 Cor. 5:3)
So, the empty tomb is the evidence without question or dispute, “[that] without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16). Because of the empty tomb, we are forgiven of sin; we are saved by grace through faith; we have eternal life; we are filled with the Spirit; we have life in abundance; we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus; and, we have hope against hope, today and tomorrow!