As many Christians as there are, there are nearly an equal number of amazing testimonies – incredible stories of what led individuals to a relationship with Jesus Christ and the start of their faith walk. For those of you that have known me (or gotten to know me a little bit through this column) know that I am no exception to this. For most of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we had a circumstance or situation (or a series of situations) where we were stirred or drawn to God. I have heard a few accounts where individuals came through their youth and, without much conflict or strife, joined in relationship rather effortlessly. Regardless of the circumstances or way we were drawn to this relationship, at the end of the day, we continue it simply because the tomb was empty.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, countless stories were told of the coming of Jesus Christ — the Messiah. For several hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophets of the Old Testament stopped hearing from God. And just as His birth was foretold, so was his death. Even for non-believers, a great number of people understand the significance of the cross in the Christian faith. Jesus Christ, a part of the Holy Trinity, was born to a virgin woman and lived a holy and sinless life. He led a ministry for three years as an example of how God wanted each of His people to live.
He performed incredible miracles and taught lessons to the multitude of followers that would trek across the countryside. But Jesus was a threat to the establishment. In the Bible there are countless times where Jesus was tempted, challenged, and baited. In each instance, he did not sin. Jesus would routinely tell His followers that He had to be about His Father’s business. He was here representing the One who sent Him. Who commanded those who would become His disciples to surrender their lives and to follow Him – all the while He was pointing to His Father, in heaven.
At Jesus’ trial, He was sentenced to be crucified — a most brutal of ways to be put to death for the most heinous of criminals. He was beaten and scourged. He was mocked and humiliated. His side was pierced with a spear. A crown of thorns was thrust down into His scalp. He was nailed to a cross. His body was jarred as the cross slammed into the earth. He struggled to breath. They moistened His mouth with vinegar as He lived in agony over those final hours. He endured this knowing that it was His purpose. Even knowing this, He did not want to do it. Scripture tells us in Matthew 26:39 (KJV), “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
Through all of this of His death, it matters not if the tomb is not empty.
After Christ died on the cross, they brought Him down and laid Him in a tomb that was prepared for Him. His body was wrapped, and He was placed there. A large stone was rolled in front of the tomb to prevent entry. The authorities did not want His body stolen from the tomb. Soldiers were assigned to stand guard.
In John 20 (KJV), the Bible tells of the people who came to learn that Jesus was no longer entombed. Mary Magdalene, noticing the stone had been rolled away, investigated the tomb. She noticed that Jesus was not there. She pleaded to know where His body had been moved. Jesus revealed Himself to her and then to some of His disciples. Thomas, who doubted it was Jesus, wanted to see the evidence of his spear-pierced body and where the nails had been driven through His flesh.
If Jesus were in the tomb, there would be no salvation. It is because the tomb is empty, we, as followers of Christ, have a promise fulfilled. We have hope – because the tomb is empty.