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The empty tomb

But the angel said, “Do not be so surprised. You are looking for Jesus, the Nazarene, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body.” — Mark 16:6

Practically everybody puts Jesus in the category of “best man who ever lived.” Many agree that He’s “the greatest teacher the world has known.” Not a few insist He “showed us how we ought to live.” And some believe he “demonstrated how to face death.”

However true these opinions may be, they all fall short of what the Scriptures say about Jesus.

After Jesus’ crucifixion, His body was reverently laid in a tomb. Courageous women realized that His body had not been treated properly with burial spices, so early on Sunday morning, in fear and trembling, they went to the tomb to lovingly administer appropriate care.

When they arrived they were confronted with an empty tomb and an angelic messenger who proclaimed, “He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead!” (Mark 16:6). After the angel had given them further instructions and a promise that they would see Jesus, the women left the scene “too frightened to talk” (16:8).

But talk they did when they met the disciples. Quickly the word spread, the Lord appeared, and the evidence mounted that Jesus, who had truly been dead, had been literally raised from the dead and was very much alive. Even the disciples, who had forsaken Jesus and were understandably reluctant to believe the women’s report, eventually were persuaded by Christ’s personal appearances to them, and they “went everywhere and preached” the good news of the resurrection (16:20).

Even a moment’s reflection will show that this series of events immediately lifts Jesus beyond the opinions mentioned above into a position that only He can occupy. He is infinitely more than revered teacher, glowing example, courageous facer of death, and unimpeachable role model. His resurrection is seen to be the Father’s endorsement of all Jesus’ claims and the seal of validation that His death takes away our sins. His life after death is a statement concerning the reality of eternal existence, and His conquering of death is a robust reminder that death need hold no fear for those who trust their eternal destiny to Jesus.

The bottom line is that approving opinions about Jesus’ life miss the point unless married to joyous belief in His resurrection. Reverence, however sincere, for a dead Christ, however noble, will do nothing for a sinner headed toward a lost eternity. Only a personal experience of the risen Lord will suffice.

For further study: Mark 16:1-20

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.