It’s quiet here…take a seat. Soak it in! Pull out your Bible and read Matthew 28:1-7. Avoid rushing through it, but rather put yourself into the place of the two women who arrived at the tomb early that Sunday morning. Perhaps look intently into the picture above and put yourself there in your mind’s eye. Feel the coolness of the stone step you have chosen to sit upon. Smell the freshness of the garden in bloom. Notice the slight breeze on your cheek. Hear the gentle tweets of the songbirds welcoming the dawn.
That morning, an angel in gleaming white made the most astounding announcement ever: “He is not here, He is risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay!” Go ahead, take a peak! The tomb is empty! Here is what you see:
As your Bible comes to life, let’s take a short journey through an event that happened after this. In Matthew 28:7, the angel instructed the women to go tell the disciples that He is risen from the dead. Apparently they did.
Flip over to the account in John 20:1-9. Again, read slowly and deliberately, transposing yourself into the account, allowing your Bible to come alive and swallow you into its truth.
John provides different details of those early moments that Sunday morning. It was dark and, undoubtedly, details were difficult to grasp. No one had ever seen this kind of resurrection before! John reports that Mary Magdalene immediately came to Simon Peter and exclaimed, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” To this point, it appears Mary did not understand the fullness of the angel’s declaration that Jesus was risen from the dead. She only knew He was not there.
What follows is interesting. Peter and “the other disciple” (John) went running, and John reached the tomb first. He looked in, saw the linen cloths lying there, but did not go in. Peter, on the other hand, burst right into the tomb when he got there! He saw the linen cloth, and then the face cloth folded up neatly and lying to the side.
Can you “feel” the scene? Peter and John’s curiosity is piqued. The stone is completely rolled away and evidence is left of Jesus’ resurrection. Reality is setting in…though difficult to comprehend. Stay in the scene as we go back to John 20.
In verse 8, we read that John arrived first, but only peaked inside, while Peter entered in. Verse 9 goes on to tell us they (just like Mary Magdalene) didn’t understand what Jesus had said about rising from the dead, but now it was visible!
As you stand gazing into the empty tomb, notice the contrast we just read, and consider your own life. Though John arrived first, he did not enter. Peter, on the other hand, burst right in! For some, we hear the Gospel of salvation and we enter in with great trust, not really knowing what it all means. For others, we stop to contemplate what we have heard, then we enter in, perhaps with “less trust,” but greater understanding. Either way, the key is that we enter in! Both Peter and John entered the tomb that day, and each saw the visible evidence of Jesus’s resurrection.
Have you been brought near, but are yet to enter in? Perhaps you’ve heard the Gospel message…the good news of Jesus Christ and the salvation He brings…but you have not yet exercised the trust (otherwise known as faith) necessary to enter into salvation. Perhaps you have entered into salvation, but your trust that Jesus will be all He says He will be is lacking.
The Bible says that today is the day of salvation! (2 Corinthians 6:2) We are all sinful people, and God has faithfully told the whole world to repent (Mark 6:12; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 3:19-21; Acts 17:30-31). That means to turn from sin and embrace Christ…the Savior of the world.
Every person will spend eternity somewhere…heaven or hell. Hell is a real place, and it will be eternal suffering, of which we cannot even fathom. Come spend eternity with us in heaven!
The message here at the Garden Tomb is clear: death could not hold our Savior! He rose to conquer sin, death, guilt and shame! If you struggle with any of those, it is time to enter in!
I’ll close with various messages found in the garden: