Can you imagine the devastation Jesus’s disciples were feeling that Thursday night and Friday as they witnessed the most crushing scene conceivable. They had invested everything—their lives, careers, families, future—into one person based on their conviction that He was the Messiah/King, the God/Man. And this man had given them every reason to believe that He was indeed legitimate; but now they were faced with that haunting, gut-wrenching prospect that their beliefs and convictions were misdirected and unfounded.
The Twelve had stuck with Him through thick and thin. Perhaps they had some questions during that unsettling trend when Jesus’ popularity waned, but they remained true. And then, when the multitudes affirmed and celebrated Him the previous Sunday, they began to see everything come together; the stage was set for the Messiah/King to launch His reign and rule over the earth.
But they watched those hopes and dreams die a dreadful death on a Roman cross at the hands of those whom He was supposed to conquer. Even more, He had preached against the false and twisted religion of the Pharisees, but apparently they were right, because they won—convincingly.
On top of that, they watched someone whom they deeply loved falsely tried and wrongly executed. Their hearts had to have been crushed to see a loved one treated in such a way, and then to have His life and His love ripped away from them. This should not have happened—how could it have happened?
This was not what they expected. Jesus’ broken and lifeless body had been placed in a tomb, and they believed that was the end.
They weren’t expecting the tomb to be empty that Sunday morning, but it was, and the empty tomb changed everything.
You see, the empty tomb validated all of Jesus’ claims. Over the course of His ministry, Jesus repeatedly and consistently identified Himself as the Messiah/King, fully understanding all of the implications for His followers. But honestly, anyone could make that claim, and in fact many have over the centuries.
Jesus set Himself apart from the rest in one very unique and powerful way. He is the only one in history to raise Himself from the dead. And in that resurrection, He validated every truth He proclaimed and every claim He made.
When Jesus stood before the Pharisees, He enraged them with His blatant admission to being the Christ. But His resurrection confirmed that assertion and reality. While they refused to accept the broader implications, it was impossible for them to ignore the truth of an empty tomb. In that encounter, Jesus ultimately won—convincingly.
And the Roman authorities who had the authority to crucify Him, and who stood guard outside His tomb, didn’t have the authority or power to keep Him dead and confined to that tomb.
That morning, what had once been a dark and dismal symbol of devastating defeat was transformed miraculously into a glorious beacon of ultimate and conclusive victory.
But more than demonstrating His power and authority over the Pharisees and Rome, the empty tomb testified to the reality that the King accomplished the Kingdom agenda for which He came the first time. Jesus’ mission was not to launch an insurrection, it was to address the needs of sinners. It was to flesh out God’s love in such a way that sinners could be reconciled with the Father. It was, as the Lamb of God, to pay the price and penalty for our sins. The empty tomb testifies to the fulfillment of that mission. And even more, it demonstrates His victory over death.
Sin entered this world in the Garden of Eden, and the universal impact was physical and spiritual death for everyone. The empty tomb bears witness to our King’s absolute, undeniable, conclusive, and ultimate victory over both!
The empty tomb changed everything. Because of that empty tomb, we can be assured that our deepest needs have been met: the need for sins to be punished—Jesus took that punishment for us; the need for forgiveness—because of Him, we can be; the need for reconciliation with the Father against Whom we have rebelled—His death secured that reconciliation; and the need for deliverance from eternal death—the empty tomb confirms that our King has indeed conquered death, once and for all time.
Perhaps you have found yourself confused and disillusioned by the crushing blows of life. Perhaps you’ve even been confused and disillusioned by the Lord’s failure to do what you expected Him to do. Perhaps you’ve felt you had a need that He failed to meet.
Just remember what He accomplished on the cross for you, and remember that the empty tomb verifies and validates everything He said and did.
And that changes everything.