Have you ever pictured it? Pictured the empty tomb on that glorious Sunday morning? What wonder and awe it held. Inside, the body of Jesus had been laid to rest after His crucifixion. But on that joyous and triumphant morning, the stone that sealed the tomb, though heavy in nature, was rolled aside and a bare tomb revealed!
And yet, a few days earlier, it was just a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who secretly believed in Jesus. After Jesus’ crucifixion, placing himself in danger of social and religious exclusion, Joseph requested the body of Jesus so he could properly bury Him.
Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. Mark 15:46
What did the tomb look like? Well, in the days of Jesus, tombs were carved-out areas in the stony parts of the city or surrounding hillside. According to past records and historical analysis, the tomb where Jesus was laid is believed to have been in a garden previously owned by Joseph of Arimathea and is within the city of Jerusalem. Inside most tombs, multiple shelves on which to lay several family members were chiseled out. The tomb of Jesus contains two.
You can see the actual tomb that is believed to be the burial site of Jesus HERE.
When I think of the lavish ways in which we now bury our dead in cushioned coffins and fancy dress, the tomb of Jesus seems extremely cold and dark. His body was laid out in the openness of this miniature man-made cave. Only linen cloth would be wrapped around Him. There would be no funeral, as the lateness in the day would have required quick action to complete the initial work of preparing the body according to Jewish custom.
I can almost hear stone scraping against stone as Joseph would roll a rounded stone in front of the tomb entrance to close it off. And then there would be utter silence as night fell.
One night would pass, then two, and then three…
For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. Matthew 12:40
Unlike our traditional view that Jesus was buried on Friday and raised on Sunday, the scriptures tell a very different story. Jesus was very clear that he would be buried 3 days and 3 nights. To understand what day Jesus was crucified and buried on, you must account for Jewish tradition. The events in scripture, when reviewed carefully and in the order they occurred, revealed that Jesus was buried on Wednesday, lying in the grave Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night. He arose on Saturday! Remember, Saturday is considered a Sabbath day in Jewish tradition, and it ends at sunset. In other words, the start of Sunday is in the evening.
Mary and the other women went back to Jesus’ tomb on Sunday morning around sunrise, having purchased spices the evening prior after sunset (start of Sunday) to complete their burial ritual, but Jesus had already been raised from the dead the day before! Here are two sets of scriptures that support the events as described above:
Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. Mark 16:1-4
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. John 20:1
To see all the evidence that backs up this timeline, read this ARTICLE.
However, what is most important about the story is the fact that the tomb was found EMPTY! (Well, except for an angel that is!)
When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Mark 16:5-6
And that, my friend, is the basis of our belief! HE IS RISEN!!!
Our Savior lives! There was no body to find. He has defeated death, He sits at the right hand of God, and He is coming back again!!!
I hope you enjoy this Easter Sunday with your family. I hope it is filled with joy and laughter. But most of all, among the food and the consumerism of the day, I hope you take some time to contemplate the emptiness of the tomb and all that it means!! Easter is about our wonderful, amazing, powerful, holy, and LIVING Savior!!!
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.