← back to list

Apr 21, 2019

Easter - The Empty Tomb

Easter - The Empty Tomb

Speaker: James Gallaher

Category: Sunday Morning

Substitutes often do a good job of offering temporary satisfaction for what is aching on the inside of us. Jesus wants to prove to us that there is no substitute for the ultimate substitute who paid a price I could not pay and to gain a life that I could not earn.

All four gospels record this event – The empty tomb!

John 20:1-10 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together, and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Imagine the feeling of these followers of Jesus. The disciples could not get their mind around what was happening. Jesus has been crucified and buried now for these past few days. They were standing in a moment of finality. All they had been through with Jesus for three years had become their purpose, and now it was gone. Jesus was much more than just a friend, they believed He was the Messiah.

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning/middle of the night/3-6am/in darkness. We are like Mary, going to broken places in the darkness because we fear, or we have shame. Mary discovers Jesus gone and goes to tell others. John, who Jesus loved, and Peter race to the tomb. They saw the empty tomb with the linens wrapped up. Instead of a king, they now had an empty tomb. There was a sense of fear that it had all been a lie, a counterfeit.

We live in a world of counterfeits, or substitutes, of what is missing in our life. Counterfeits look like something you desire and want but without the cost (Example: Rolex/Jolex). It’s a substitution for what we really want. The church functions like this too. We have substitute emotions. We say, “I’m blessed” when we are broken. We offer these nice sayings because we don’t want others to know our heart. We want others to think that we’ve got something that we don’t have. We keep others at a distance, so they don’t find out.

We come into relationships all bound up just like the disciples when they looked into the empty tomb - it wasn’t supposed to be this way. The reality is that we have ideas of what life was supposed to be like and it gets nailed to a cross and we think it’s over.

Substitutes often do a good job of offering temporary satisfaction for what is aching on the inside. In Luke 18:18-24, the rich, young ruler asks, “What do I need to do to inherit eternal life?” It’s the ultimate longing of the soul – eternal security. We say, “look at all of the things I’ve done.”  Jesus says, “one thing you still lack, sell all you have and distribute to the poor and come and follow me.” Jesus was not talking about commandments (behavior) or about money (possessions). He was talking about all of our efforts, all of our striving, all of our substitutes, are not capable to remove the emptiness of our hearts.

We want to have significance in all we do but no amount of good deeds or wealth could fill the void that only a life in Christ could satisfy.

John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus lays out the answer to the question of how to fill the void.

John 20:9-10 The disciples went again to their own houses. Imagine the fear and maybe anger that Jesus didn’t seem to show up and that God didn’t seem to be there. Is your life like this? a wreck? everything I hoped in is gone? looking for something else to ease the pain?

John 20:11-14 Mary sees Jesus standing there. Do we often do the same? We rush in and out expecting to hear from God. Do we give Him a chance to speak to us? Do we realize that He is there while we are trying to figure out our next move?

Mary saw Jesus first because she stuck around, but praise God, even Jesus shows up to busy and distracted people.

John 20:19-20 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said them, "Peace be  with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus is giving proof of His resurrection. If Christ had just died and not been resurrected, Paul says our faith would be worthless. The resurrection is what makes His promises legitimate. Jesus appears to over 500 people in 40 days after His resurrection. This tells us that when our hope has been lost, that when we have been seeking Him through the dark night, that when we have been hiding out scared for our life, that’s when He likes to show up. He shows up with His peace and His healing and turns our fear into faith.

Jesus wants to prove to us that there is no substitute for the ultimate substitute who paid a price I could not pay and to gain a life that I could not earn.

What reality in your life is different than your expectations?

What substitution will you reveal for covering what aches inside?

When you see an empty tomb for what you have been searching for, how do you react? Is your faith shaken? Do you feel like you’ve wasted years of your life? Do you look for and search for Jesus to show up?