A grade-school Sunday School teacher, on an Easter morn, decided to do something a bit different with an Easter egg hunt. She hid small objects on the playground and gave the children empty plastic eggs with the instructions to find something that “Means Easter to you and put it in the egg.” After all the children were back, she asked them to present what they found. Gathering the eggs, she opened them, one at a time, and asked the egg’s owner to explain why they had chosen what that object. After a few eggs, she picked one up and noticed it was awfully light. Opening it, she found it empty. A boy, we’ll call him Tommy, claimed the egg and was asked to explain. The other children snickered, but the boy simply said, “He’s not here, He’s risen.” The teacher immediately remembered the verse the children had memorized in preparation for Easter:
He is not here, for He has risen. –Matthew 28:6
Isn’t that the crux of Easter? He’s not there; the tomb is empty. It’s empty. Unlike the tombs of Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Jesus’ tomb is empty. The empty tomb matters. Paul knew this, saying:
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile…we are of all people most to be pitied. –1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 18
And He was dead. Make no mistake about that. A reading of On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ should erase any doubt that He was dead. In the opening chapter of A Christmas Carol, we read, “Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.” Jesus was dead. This must be distinctly understood or nothing wonderful can come of His resurrection—indeed, if He were not dead, then He didn’t rise from the dead.
In those days when a workman (a carpenter in particular) was finished with his work, he would fold, carefully and neatly, his work cloth (shop rag) and leave it so that the one who hired him could see that the work was completed, it was finished.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished”…Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus ‘ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. –John 19:30 & John 20:8–9
The tomb, like Tommy’s plastic egg, was empty. He is risen! He is risen indeed!