By Pastor John Mateos Ong and Pastora Monique Ong
Resurrection Sunday is one of the most important days in the Christian life. We do not call is Easter Sunday because that is for pagans, celebrating it for other gods. If we go back 2000 years ago, this is the day that the apostles discovered that the tomb is empty. What does this mean to Christians nowadays?
Mark 16:1-7 reads: “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where 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.”
Jesus was crucified before the Passover. For the Jews, the Sabbath is from Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon. So they say that Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday because normally, they are not allowed to wander away from their houses for more than 2 kilometers. In the scriptures, the ladies were in a hurry to go to the tomb because they wanted to bring spices to Him. When we read “very early,” that means “with urgency.” While walking, they were thinking of who is going to roll away the stone from the tomb. But when they got there, they saw that it had already been rolled away.
Nobody can really pinpoint where Jesus’ tomb is. The Catholics claim that the Holy Sepulcher Church is the tomb of Jesus. In the Bible, Jesus’ tomb is described as having a garden, thus the Garden Tomb. But it does not really matter where the tomb of Jesus is.
Going back to our scripture, when the two ladies reached the tomb and saw the huge stone rolled away, they went inside and did not see the body os Jesus, instead, they saw a young man, believed to be an angel, who told them that Jesus is not here, He is risen.
In this regard, we would like to point out a lot of speculations about the resurrection. Many religions are trying to destroy the good work of this very important event. First, they say that the Roman soldiers stole the body of Jesus. The Romans have heard the prophetic word of Jesus saying that on the third day, Jesus was going to rise again. They also knew that the believers would be waiting for that. So they were the ones that stood there watching the tomb when it was discovered that the body of Jesus was not there. So they tried to cover it up saying that they stole the body to disprove the prophesy and prove on the other hand that the death of Jesus was simply that, and that He was still dead; His body just moved to another place and Christianity is nothing but a lie. On second thought, why would they do that? In the Bible, the Romans even asked for security to be tightened around the garden tomb because the apostles might steal the body. So this speculation is most likely untrue. Second, the disciples stole the body. You have to understand where they are coming from. Lazarus is the very first person who they saw rise from the dead. This resurrection is not normal for them. So they had to think of a logical story to appease themselves. But this is impossible because the disciples themselves were scared and in hiding. They even paid the Roman soldiers to say that they fell asleep and someone stole the body. Think about this. If the body was stolen, how do you explain Jesus appearing to His followers? Lastly, the Swoon Theory says that Jesus did not really die. They say that Jesus simply fell into an unconscious state that seemed like death, laid in the tomb and was later on revived. The disciples then hid His body where Jesus was refreshed and showed Himself to people afterwards. But if you remember, a Roman soldier was asked to inspect if Jesus was really dead on the cross and He was. The fourth one, and the funniest one at that is mass hallucination.This is most impossible when 500 people at one time literally saw Him there, dying on the cross and say that all of them were hallucinating. Lastly, they say that they went to the wrong tomb. Several people went to the tomb and all of them were wrong? The tomb was Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb so they must know exactly where it is located.
What can we get from all of this? A lot of people want to deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ because it is God’s supernatural proof that He is King, He is victorious, and it is only through Jesus Christ that all unrepentant men and women will be judged. Most people reject the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection, not because of intellectual or philosophical reasons, but because of a moral one. They reject it because they still love the sins they are committing and are not yet ready to give them up.
So what message does the empty tomb give us now?
Jesus is the real deal. Try to Google how many religions there are in the world. Google will tell you that there are 4,200. But not even one of them will claim that their god died and rose from the dead after three days. People who try to refute this claim, intellectual people who work in the CIA or in forensics, end up becoming believers. Also, many founders of these religions are buried somewhere. Until now, you can visit their graves and their bodies are still there. The empty tomb proves that we are worshipping the real God. 1 Corinthians 15:14, the apostle Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”Everything you are doing for your faith is useless if Jesus did not rise from the dead. Three verses after in 1 Corinthians 15:17, it says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Jesus is our Savior because He saved us from our sins. If the resurrection is not real, then Jesus is just an ordinary man and we are worshipping a false faith after all. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 says “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” If there is one thing that you need to remember about your Christian faith, it is that Jesus Christ died for your sins was raised on the third day. It was not an accident but a prophesy from the scriptures. It was not an accident that Jesus was raised on the third day. Paul even gave eyewitness accounts to prove this . Jesus appeared to. Him a year after His death. Before He was a follower, Paul was a persecutor of Christians. Somebody once said, “If you believe in God, give Him your 100%. If you don’t then do not have anything to do with them at all.”a lot of Christians cannot give their all for Jesus. If you truly believe, God will need 100% surrender. If not, then simply forget about it. Because the tomb was empty, we are following the real God and we can go all out and surrender everything to Him.
We can enter the Holy of Holies anytime. Matthew 27:50-51 says, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split.” The tabernacle is brought everywhere. It has an outer court and an inner court. From the inner court, there is a room called the Holy of Holies. Even before you enter the latter, there is a veil, a very, very thick curtain. You cannot simply enter it because it is 4 inches thick. But when Jesus died, that curtain split from top to bottom. If man did it, it would be torn from the bottom to the top. Inside the Holy of Holies is where the Arc of the Covenant lies. This is the representation of God’s most Holy Presence. When Jesus gave up His spirit, the veil was torn, signifying what separated man from God, who is Holy. In fact, only the High Priest can enter this place. Hebrews 10:19 says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,” The veil is the symbol of the separation of man from God. Now that it is split, we can come into His presence anytime. 1 Corinthians 6:19 also “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” Because the veil was torn, we now have access to God. Also, we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit - the Kingdom of God is in us. We have divine access to the Holy God anytime, all the time. The same spirit that rose Jesus from the dead now lives in us. You have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Treat yourself as Holy because the blood of Christ has cleansed you. Treat yourself as Holy. Let the Holy Spirit consume you. Hudson Taylor once said: “Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.”
Victory over sin and death. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus showed that He suffered and all but at the end of the day, victory is HIs. In this life, death is the worst thing that can happen to you. But Jesus says He has triumphed over death. It is not enough to contain Him. The question is whether you will die or not but “Do you know Jesus Christ?” A lingering question also remains: if Jesus has triumphed over death, why do Christians continue to sin and get tempted? Your spirit is always saved no matter what happens. But it is in your mind where the battle takes place. But just like a chicken who still moves even when its head is cut off, sin is already dead. When the word of God says Jesus has won the victory, you can count on that. Sin still moves but its venom is no longer there. Lastly, Romans 6:22-23 says “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In summary, the empty tomb is important because we can now go all out knowing we have the real deal. Second, we should not be afraid to approach the Lord in confidence anytime because God’s presence is in us. Lastly, no matter how much we are tempted by sin, we are victorious and we can say no anytime.
Celebrate Jesus not only today but everyday. We have a victorious and living God. We have to share the good news that Jesus is alive!