On that first Easter morning the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb saw the angel come and roll away the stone, but they squandered the opportunity to be powerful witnesses and took the bribe to remain silent.
“You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:48)
Mary Magdalene’s heart overflowed with love for her Lord—first in weeping as she witnessed the empty tomb and then with rejoicing after she met her living Savior.
On Easter evening Jesus appeared to the disciples who were gathered behind locked doors. First of all, He assured them that He was not a ghost and then“He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). Jesus explained why it was necessary to suffer and to die. He explained that repentance and remission of sins should be preached to all nations. Then Jesus said, “You are witnesses of these things.”
These disciples and others continued to witness the living Jesus during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension. All were witnesses of an empty tomb and a full hope—witnesses of death swallowed up by life.
You too are Jesus’ witness. You have the eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, and they have been given to you by none other than the Holy Spirit Himself through His inspiration of Holy Scripture. The Holy Spirit has opened your understanding so that you are able to comprehend the Scriptures. You know that Jesus matches the Old Testament prophecies of Christ, and that He fulfilled your salvation. You have been given the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). Therefore you also are “witnesses of these things.”
As a witness of Christ’s empty tomb you are able to confess Christ and all that He has done for you. Unlike the soldiers, you can take advantage of the opportunity. Like Mary, you can confess and proclaim the Lord whom you love. You can declare the forgiveness of sins that is found in Jesus, your living Lord.
As witnesses of the empty tomb you are able to share the gospel message with your words and also by how you live. You are able to live as if you have a living Savior—because you do! You are able to live confidently because Jesus lives to guide you, guard you, provide for you, and bless you day by day. You testify to Jesus’ empty tomb by how you approach sickness, tragedy, and eventually death. You are a witness of the empty tomb as you demonstrate that you are living for a living Savior and no longer for yourself and what pleases you.
The day will come when you will be a joyful witness of your own empty tomb. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)
On the Last Day when Jesus returns to judge all people, He will raise up all the dead. The unbelievers will be raised to the sorrow and never-ending misery of eternal judgment. As a witness of Christ’s empty tomb and as a child of God you will be raised to live eternally with your Lord. Your body will be raised from whatever state of decay in which it is found. It will be raised in a perfected, glorified, and sinless condition. This glorified and perfected body will be inseparably joined with the soul for eternity and stand as a witness of the empty tombs—both yours and Christ’s. Jesus promised this when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
Job had the firm confidence that he would stand with his Redeemer and be the witness of his own empty tomb. He declared: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27). Every child of God can stand sure on the truth that our Redeemer lives, and because He lives we will live also! (cf. John 14:19)
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory! That victory is found in the empty tomb of which you are a witness.