Summary: Short sermon to conclude an Easter Family Service.
What Do You Do With An Empty Tomb?
Easter 2008 Message
This short message comes at the end of a four part skit that will interlace our Easter Service. The skit is entitled: Deuce Montana and the Adventure of the Empty Tomb. The skit is simply an illustration of the Bridge or Steps to Peace With God (Billy Graham) with two adventurers trying to get from one side of a canyon to the other to investigate a tomb that they discover. Eventually that find a “cross” and use if as a bridge, only to find that the tomb is empty. As they go along one of the explorers explains the meaning of the tomb, a cross, and ultimately the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection. For a text of the skit email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s why we celebrate Easter! The tomb, the grave, is empty! Jesus died on a cross; He was seen dead. Jesus was buried in a tomb, a burial cave, for three days and then He came back to life. He resurrected and walked out of that tomb leaving it empty?
So what do you do with an empty tomb?
Tombs are for burial; tombs are for the dead, but what do you do with an empty tomb? More specifically, what do you do with Jesus’ empty tomb?
Listen to the account of the Resurrection as written by Luke in the New Testament:
“But very early on Sunday morning£ the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” Luke 24:1-8
Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened.
What do you do with an empty tomb?
ONE THING YOU CAN DO WITH AN EMPTY TOMB IS TRY TO IGNORE IT.
Ignoring an empty tomb is tough. Some years ago a misguided historian came up with the theory that when those women went to the tomb on Sunday morning they accidentally went to the wrong tomb. Of course to actually believe that explanation you would have to ignore the angels explaining to the women what happened and also assume that when the other disciples (John and Peter) went to see for themselves that they also went to the wrong tomb.
For centuries people have tried to simply ignore the empty tomb. To a lot of people, whether or not Jesus rose from the dead means nothing to them. They simply ignore it. What does it matter to me?
Here’s why it matters: because the empty tomb is a major proof that Jesus is still alive and that He has power over death. But let’s go on…
What can you do with an empty tomb?
You can deny the empty tomb!
That’s what the early Jewish leaders did. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish court that illegally sentenced Jesus to death on the cross tried to deny the empty tomb.
First they tried to protect the tomb. If you read the resurrection account in Matthew you find that the religious leaders when to the Roman Governor, Pilate, asking that he put a Roman guard unit at the tomb of Jesus.
“Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” Matthew 27:63-64
Later after the resurrection those guards reported back to the Jewish leaders what had happened:
As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today. Matthew 28:11-15