24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 6 He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” 8 And they remembered His words, 9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
The resurrection is the focal point of Christianity.
If there is no resurrection, there is no new life for us. We remain condemned and cursed to die never to live again. We remain without hope.
The resurrection is the triumph of Life over death. Hope over despair. Renewal and rebirth over decay. The resurrection of Christ is the fulfillment of our salvation. Christ faced death and yielded to it, paying our curse. The resurrection then is the proof that He is the One with the power over death and the ability to bring life to men and women. He is the Life.
Without the resurrection, Christianity would be the collected sayings of an obscure 1st century rabbi.
With the resurrection, men and women took the message of new and eternal life, of an end to the curse of sin, and hope to the ends of the world, proclaiming that “He is risen!” even as they went to their own deaths, confident that the Living One would raise them up.
He is not here. He has risen.
Something has changed. The enemy that stalked us has been beaten. The phantom that follows us every moment from the time we realize our own mortality no longer seems quite as scary. There is hope.
The women who visited Jesus’ grave that morning weren’t expecting this. They brought the perfumes and spices they planned on anointing His body with. They worried as they drew near about how they would roll back the stone from the opening. They didn’t know about the Roman guard stationed there. They had arrived the previous day while the disciples and women were resting according to the Law. The Romans wouldn’t have permitted them to breech the tomb. It was sealed by the authority of Rome. It would have stopped the women.
It did not stop the Lord.
The stone is rolled away, angels show up, the guards fell down as if they were dead. When the women get there they find the tomb, but no body. The angels ask them why they seek the Living One among the dead. Then the angels give them a quick refresh course about all of the times Jesus told them He was going to be arrested, killed, and then resurrected after three days. Now they understand. Sometimes it takes a miracle to break through the preconceived ideas we hold.
The women, and they are named: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James (probably James the Lesser.) This would have been unusual in the ancient world. Women weren’t permitted to testify in court. The disciples think the women are simply hysterical or delusional. Except Peter and John. They run to the tomb themselves. They find it as the women said. The tomb is empty, the grave clothes of the Lord remain, with the veil covering His head folded neatly and sitting by itself.
They marvel at the sight and wonder what could have happened. They don’t believe yet. It’s too difficult to believe. Death is final. People don’t come back. They certainly don’t come back of their own accord.
Something had changed.