THE EMPTY TOMB
“Christ’s resurrection is one of the central truths of the Christian faith and the only plausible explanation for the empty tomb. Many theories have been sinfully invented over the centuries to explain away the empty tomb, all of them equally futile.”1
“Though Jesus had predicted His resurrection numerous times, it was more than [His followers] could believe at that point. It would take His showing Himself alive to them by many ‘infallible proofs’ for them to believe.”2 (Acts 1:3)
“That the women came to anoint Jesus’ body on the third day after His burial showed that they, like the disciples, were not expecting Him to rise from the dead.”3 But GOD . . .
Jesus rose. His body had not decayed, for it was not possible for that holy thing to see corruption; but still it had been dead. And by the power of God—by His own power, by the Father’s power, by the power of the Spirit, for it is attributed to each of these in turn—before the sun had risen, His dead body was quickened. This is the doctrine that is the keystone of the arch of Christianity.4
The guards at the tomb experienced paralyzing fear: “[A]n angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became as dead men”(Matt 28:2-4 ESV).
The angel proclaims the great truth that concerns everyone and will change the universe forever. It is with flight, trembling, astonishment, silence and fear that the women initially receive the angel’s message about God’s action in raising Jesus from the dead.5
But instead of paralyzing fear the women’s fear energized them: “So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy”(Matt 28:8 ESV). “[T]rembling and astonishment had seized them”(Mark 16:8 ESV).
“These graphic words indicate dramatically the soul-shocking nature of the truth those women had just learned.”6
Fear and great joy is: “A natural state of mingled feeling, in view of what they had seen and heard. Fear at what they had seen, joy at what they had heard, and both mingled because the latter seemed too good to be true.”7
“Energizing fear pulled them out of the paralyzed fear of obsession with themselves and into a world of GOD’s surprises.”8 “Suddenly they understood they were not the center of their own existence nor wanted to be!”9 That energizing fear became an excitement in waiting for what GOD would do next!
(21) Energizing Fear
1. John MacArthur, One Perfect Life (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012) 472.
2. John MacArthur, 471.
3. John MacArthur, 470.
4. Charles Spurgeon, “Resurrection,” Free Grace Broadcaster 235 (Spring 2016) : 3.
5. Gerald O’Collins, “The Empty Tomb—What Does it Mean?” 21 April 2003, America, The Jesuit Review, 12 February 2021 https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2003/04/21/what-does-empty-tomb-jesus-mean-us-today.
6. James Burton Coffman, “Commentary on Mark 16:8,” 1999, Coffman Commentaries on the Bible, 12 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/mark/16-8.html#verse-bcc.
7. Philip Schaff, “Commentary on Matthew 28:8,” 1879-90, Schaff’s Popular Commentary on the New Testament, 12 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/matthew/28-8.html#verse-scn.
8. Eugene Peterson, Living the Resurrection (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 2006) 17.
9. Peterson, 28.
10. Peterson, 30.
12. “ . . . the LORD of hosts . . . Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Isaiah 8:13 ESV).
13. Eugene Peterson, Living the Resurrection (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 2006) 17.
14. Peterson, 28.
15. Peterson, 38.
16. “And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:3 ESV).
17. R. Macculloch, “Commentary on Isaiah 11:3,” 1905-09, The Biblical Illustrator, 12 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/isaiah/11-3.html#verse-tbi.