The Empty Tomb - and why it still matters. - Matt
So let's get into why that's so and why the empty tomb matters. Now Mary and Mary went to the tomb on that first Easter Sunday morning, okay, they were going there to anoint Jesus body because this was the custom at the time. But kind of imagine how Mary and Mary are feeling right now. Right, their hero, their Saviour has just been killed in the most horrific way. Right? They thought he was going to change everything. They thought, you know, he was going to rule the world, but all of their dreams and hopes kind of died along with him as he lay there in the tomb.
But here's the thing, right? Here's the thing, which astounds me about Mary and Mary, they went anyway, they just went. And this is an important part of the story. Because despite everything around them now being hopeless, and kind of seemingly destroyed, they still went to minister to Jesus, even though Jesus at that point, was not meeting their expectations. I mean, that had to be hard. I mean, really, really hard for them to do. And I kind of have, I suppose a picture in my head of these two, brokenhearted ladies were sort of tears of pain and grief, rolling down their face, when they meet the angel whose face doesn't have tears and grief down the Bible tells us it was shining light lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow, as he appears there on the sort of, on this sort of tomb, and there's this great earthquake that's going on around them. I mean, it's just this is not this is not what Mary and Mary are expecting. Oh, no. I mean, if you think about their checklist of likely outcomes as they go to the tomb, this is not what they were thinking was going to happen at all.
Our story seems to have taken what can only be described as a very interesting turn, as I'm sure we can all agree. Now here's the other fascinating thing. The guards stationed around the tomb, right? They were there because they were to sort of guard the tomb, the Roman authorities feared that people would come and steal Jesus's body. So the guards are there watching this, and they see this. They feel the earthquake, they see the angel rolling away the stone, like a bowling ball, at least in my head. And you know what they do? Oh, they faint. Oh, yes. Good going, guys, they kind of fall over. Right? And that just amuses me. I don't know why, just does. But the angel says to Mary and Mary, I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn't here. He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.
Oh, yes. Hold the press. Right. This is the bit of news they were definitely not expecting to hear. Right. And it's fascinating to me, imagine what's going on? Right. Let me ask you a question. This is an interesting question for me. Why did the angel roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb? Why did he do that? Well, it certainly wasn't to let Jesus out. Right? I mean, that's going to be obvious as we read the rest of the story. But it certainly wasn't to let Jesus out. So the only conclusion I can come to is that it was to let the women see in to let them see that the tomb was in fact empty.
And so the angel is both telling them that Christ has in fact, risen. And he shows them that Christ has in fact, risen. Come see where his body was lying, the angel says, Come and have a look, come see for yourself. The two women who were looking for Jesus come face to face with the reality of an empty tomb with the fact that Jesus isn't there anymore. He is risen. And just like Mary and Mary, as we ourselves, look for Jesus, and grapple with the idea of his divinity, we have to face the empty tomb, we come face to faith, face to faith?, face to face, I can't even say it. Face to face, with his whole idea of the resurrection. Face to faith actually works in that sentence as well. And this is actually why the empty tomb matters, okay? Because if the tomb wasn't empty, there would be no resurrection, we wouldn't have to face that. And if Christ just died, but wasn't raised from the dead, well, then Christianity actually has a huge problem to deal with.
It's like, isn't the resurrection 100% gold plated? rubbish? Someone once asked. And this, I think, is a great question. Because in my mind, it's probably the question to ask, especially if you're looking for Jesus, if you're kind of on that journey, like Mary and Mary were. You say, the Bible talks about this, right? And it says, In the book of Corinthians, if Christ has not been raised, then all of our preaching is useless. And your faith is useless. And you're still guilty of your sins.
Wow. I mean, if there is no resurrection, right? There is no Christian faith. It's useless, the Bible tells us it's useless. And that's why the empty tomb matters. So if you are looking into the Christian faith, then one of the things you should do is study the resurrection, look at the evidence for the empty tomb. In fact, is there any evidence for it? Now, what I can tell you is Sharon, my amazing and beautiful wife is going to be talking about this in just a few weeks time, as we carry on our journey through Mark's gospel, she's going to come to that and go through it in much more detail. So make sure you like the Facebook page, subscribe on YouTube, or, you know, head to the website, crowd.church, and join the email list. And we'll let you know when that's coming out. Because you're not going to want to miss it. Let me tell you, it's gonna be great stuff as we look at the evidence for the resurrection.
Now, like Mary and Mary, I personally had to face the empty tomb.
People told me that Christ was risen. And then when I was about 18, it was as if I too was seeing that empty tomb. It was as if the angel kind of invited me in. And I saw it for myself. I heard it, and then I saw it. In fact, this was such a real experience for me. It's changed my life in irrevocable ways. And not just mine.
Let's be real, right? There are billions of Christians out there, including scientists and medical professionals, teachers, academics office Workers, tree surgeons, mums, dads, farmers, fishermen, people who are unemployed, poets, artists, missionaries, all of them have faced the empty tomb and had their lives transformed, because of the resurrection. Right? That moment in time when Christ defeated death, where victory came out of tragedy, and where life really, truly begins, especially meaningful life.
And it's, and it is the story also of Mary and Mary, right, look at what happens next to these two women, the angel tells them, Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee, you will see him there. Remember, what I have told you? Now, we could rock and roll on this whole conversation at the angel is having with Mary and Mary. But I do want to point something out here that isn't immediately obvious when we read this conversation, but it is, I mean, insanely important to our discussion, if I'm honest with you. And it's as simple as this, Mary and Mary are women.
Now, I appreciate this is not rocket science, I appreciate this is not a new revelation. And it may even sound a little bit odd. So hear me out on this, right? Because at the time, women were treated incredibly badly, they were not treated as equals, they were lesser people, in every way, right in society and in that culture. So if you wanted to create some kind of credible witness to an event, especially something as monumental as the empty tomb, well, then logic would dictate, you simply don't choose women. Why? Because they weren't credible. No one would believe them. No one listened to them. At their detriment, I must point out, and we know this, right, because the disciples when they were told, the men who were grieving right and to who were lost, they didn't believe Mary and Mary because women weren't credible.
Yet these two women become the first evangelists, to the cause, the resurrection. And you see, we kind of have three Mary's talked about in Scripture, the two of the tomb, and Mary Jesus' mother, right. And they, they seem to be bookending, the life of Jesus Mary was there at the start, and these two Mary's there at the end, right. And God put the most incredible news, the most life altering events, the most insane, amazing, fantastic message into the hands of the least credible, the least trustworthy, the least recognised people in humanity and society at the time, and that kickstarted a huge change in human history. That is brilliant, isn't it?
When the world, the culture, the society, the men, even the women themselves, had told them told themselves that their voice was not as important. It was not as important as others that their worth was not as high as others. God sent an angel to talk to them, and let them know that their voice did count, and that they were worth something.
It's great, isn't it? But let me tell you, it gets better. Right? The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened, but also filled with great joy. And they rush to give the disciples the angels message. They, we're very frightened, but also filled with great joy. I bet they were, I bet they were frightened, right, when you come face to face with the empty tomb, it is actually something, to fear something to be in awe of to reverence.
It is very real, and has very, very definite consequences that cannot be taken lightly. But it also comes with great joy. And I find that this is a really interesting description of the Christian life. It is when we live or should live in fear and reverence of God, that He is God, God Almighty, that He is worthy of our respect in so many ways. It's why we call him Lord. But alongside that, we've been filled with great joy that there is an awesome and holy God that knows me personally. And I can know Him.
I mean, that's insane in itself, right. It is reverential and it is joyful. And that is the Christian faith. So that's Mary & Mary, right there. Reverential and joyful. And they get ready to run to the disciples. And then Jesus met them. Oh, my goodness, I mean, Oh my goodness. Can you imagine this scene? Can you picture what is actually happening here? Jesus met them, the risen Christ, the risen, Jesus, the risen Lord met them. And there is something in that right? That when we look for Jesus, we find an empty tomb. And in seeing that he has been raised from the dead, he meets us, it is nothing short of remarkable. He met them. And he met them first, the women, he chose them first. Let that sink in.
And then perhaps, what is the most understated part of Scripture? It reads, Jesus met them and greeted them. It's great, isn't it? Imagine that right? Imagine it. You meet the risen Christ for the first time. He is standing there, right in front of you. Angels are around right? The stone has been rolled away the tomb is empty, because the guy who was dead, you saw die is now stood in front of you. And the first thing he says is Hi. Hi. Just great. Hi, Mary & Mary, how you doing? How are you doing girls? He greets us right? Such is the love of God to his people. He greets us. He greets you. He greets me. And you know what they ran to him, grasped his feet and worshipped him. No kidding. That's what they did. Right. And that's why Christians still worship Him. 2000 years later, when you meet the risen Christ, and you sense his greeting and his pleasure to be with you. You do the only thing you know to do, you worship Him. It is the natural response. Now, I love that this first story of I just love this first story of Easter. Not only because of the victory of Jesus, not only because we we understand that Christ has been risen from the dead, all the implications of that. But because we can look at the journey of Mary and Mary and see our own story.
Wherever we come from, whatever our family, or our friends or our career, we come to a place of facing the empty tomb, we can go from just hearing about the resurrection of Christ, to being invited into the resurrection of Christ, from merely standing on the outside, to being invited in. And in that place, we meet Christ, and we meet him often in an understated, but life altering way, a place where the reason God, the King of the universe, the creator of the world, the Sustainer of life, in all his glory. And in all his victory. Simply greets us he becomes a friend who says, Hi, he becomes our Lord, worthy of our reverence and our worship. And he becomes the source of the greatest joy and hope in our lives.
That's the story of Easter. And that's why the empty tomb matters.