Summary: We can have victory through the resurrection of Jesus!
The Triumph of the Resurrection
Easter Sunday 2000
On one occasion Michelangelo turned to his fellow artists and said with frustration in his voice, "Why do you keep filling gallery after gallery with endless pictures on the one theme of Christ in weakness, Christ on the cross, and most of all, Christ hanging dead?" he asked. "Why do you concentrate on the passing episode as if it were the last work, as if the curtain dropped down there on disaster and defeat? That dreadful scene lasted only a few hours. But to the unending eternity Christ is alive; Christ rules and reigns and triumphs!"
Good Friday was a dark and dreary day but now Sunday has come! The Lord is triumphant over death and He has gained the victory for all people. However, the first Easter morning did not seem like a great triumph. In fact it seemed like a great injustice or misfortune because the body of Jesus was gone and the tomb was empty. Let’s take a few moments to examine the story of that first Easter morning.
I. Mary focused on the Tragedy
A. Mary’s discovery at the tomb
1. Mary saw the stone removed
This was just before dawn while it was still dark. This would have been the easiest time of day to travel out to the area of the tomb. Mary finds the tomb open. What a shock this must have been to see that the tomb of Jesus was open.
2. The significance of the stone
The tomb was closed: The tomb had a large groove along the base with a large circular stone to close the entrance. The stone was rolled into place and became nearly impossible to remove
The tomb was sealed: The stone was then sealed by either clay or wax to further seal the entrance and make it air tight. The tomb of Jesus was also given the seal of the emperor and made it a capital crime to open the tomb.
The tomb was guarded: Pilate placed a large number of Roman soldiers to guard the tomb. Literally, Pilate was so concerned with the possibility of the resurrection that he had the tomb place under guard.
B. Mary’s reaction to the discovery
1. Mary went to Peter
Mary ran to find Peter and share the news. When Mary sees that the body of Jesus is gone her first instinct is to run and get Peter to tell him what had happened. Was Mary going to share good news with the others? NO! Mary had believed that the body of Jesus had been stolen – verse 2 b: "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!"
From Mary’s point of view this was a crisis on top of the tragedy. It never occurred to her that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
2. Mary was focused on the tragedy of the situation
First, Jesus was dead. This was a severe blow to the disciples because they never understood the fact that Jesus was going to die. So, when Jesus was crucified they could not deal with the situation.
Second, Jesus’ body was missing and presumed stolen. The body of Jesus was simply gone from the tomb and the only logical explanation was that the body was stolen.
Third, no one knew where the body was located and what had been done to the body. This was a great crisis for Mary
3. What kind of tragedies are in your life?
The tragedy of a loved one who has passed away. The tragedy of lost relationships – Divorce, strained family relations. The tragedy of lost opportunities – Time with family, chances to share the gospel
II. Peter focused on the Tomb
A. Peter investigates the tomb
1. When Peter hears the news he runs to investigate the tomb
John arrived at the tomb first and looks in the tomb entrance but does not enter the tomb. Peter arrives and immediately enters the tomb. Peter wastes no time in doing everything he can to get to the bottom of this problem.
2. Peter’s discovery
There was no body – Jesus was gone. There was no disturbance – The linens for the burial were still there and in order and it could easily be seen that the body was not stolen. The burial cloth was folded upon itself. The burial cloth was used to cover the head of Jesus. This is literally impossible unless there was a miraculous removal of the body. This is one of the most striking evidences for the resurrection
B. Peter’s response
1. Peter saw the facts
The evidence that Peter saw was indeed conclusive. Jesus had been raised from the dead. Peter did not process the information. Peter was a lot like Joe Friday from Dragnet – “Just the facts” It could be said that he was looking at just the facts. Peter saw that the body of Jesus was gone and gone in a miraculous way.