HE IS NOT HERE
Luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
Mark 16:1-3 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
Susie: Several women followers of Jesus had followed Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea in order to know where to bring the necessary spices for preparing the body of Jesus for the tomb. They had to wait until the Sabbath was over because that would have been considered work. Since the Sabbath ended at sundown on Saturday, they went first thing the next morning rather than be out at night.
Susan: There was a question in the minds of the women disciples that morning. Who could they find to roll away the large stone Joseph and Nicodemus had rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb? But they proceeded toward the tomb hoping and praying there would be someone to assist them.
Luke 24:2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
Mark 16:4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
Susie: When they arrived at the sepulcher the stone had already been moved out of the way. Matthew’s gospel looks back to how that had happened:
Matthew 28:2-4 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
Susan: What two men had struggled to accomplish—rolling the stone downhill, the angel reversed easily; and the power that emanated from the angel as he rolled the stone back uphill caused a great earthquake!
Susie: This angel had a startling appearance with a face like lightning and glow-in-the-dark white clothing. Between his appearance and strength and the earthquake, the soldiers guarding the tomb fainted dead away!
Susan: When the soldiers reported to the chief priests what had happened, the priests paid them off to lie and say they had fallen asleep and the disciples had stolen the body. These same priests had paid witnesses to lie about Jesus at His mockery of a trial before the Sanhedrin and had bribed the crowd to yell “crucify him!” and ask for a murderer instead.
Matthew 28:11-14 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
Luke 24:3-4 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
Mark 16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
Susan: The women entered the empty tomb and were astonished and confused to find the body of Jesus gone!
Susie: They saw two men, actually angels, in bright, shining clothing. Apparently only one of the angels spoke which may be why Mark mentions only one.
Luke 24:5-6 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
Susie: The women responded as most people who saw angels in the biblical accounts reacted to seeing angels: They bowed down, cowering in fright.
Susan: The words translated “the living” here are the definite article “the” and the verb “to live” in the Greek (Strong’s 2198) and literally “life” in the Aramaic text. Therefore, it would not be a stretch to translate this as follows: “Why do you seek THE LIFE among the dead?” This reminds me of what Jesus told the Apostles (emphasis mine):
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Susie: Mark records that the angel’s first words to them were, “Be not affrighted.” Angels must be fearsome because they usually open with some version of this, such as “fear not” or “be not afraid.”
Mark 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
Matthew 28:5-6 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Susan: The angel assured the women that Jesus was not in the tomb because He had risen from the dead on the third day just as He had said He would.
Luke 24:7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
Susie: Jesus had prophesied His death, burial, and resurrection more than once to His disciples and probably the women followers as well.
Susan: On those occasions, His prediction had gone right over their heads; but the angel is now reminding them of Jesus’s words.
Luke 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
Luke 18:31-33 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
Luke 24:8-9 And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
Matthew 28:7-8 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
Susan: The angel urged the women to take the message of Jesus’s resurrection to the eleven remaining disciples.
Susie: They ran immediately to give this amazing report to the eleven who were gathered with some other followers of Jesus as well. We will see later, that included in this group were Cleopas and his companion to whom Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus.
Ponder this and apply it: Imagine the surprise of these women who went to a tomb prepared to anoint a body for burial and found that body to be missing! The angel explained the reason for the empty linen cloth lying there, and the women ran to tell the disciples. However, they still couldn’t quite take it all in. What exactly does the empty tomb mean to us? If Christ had not defeated death, we would have no hope of doing the same. The empty tomb means that those who believe will be with Jesus, not just in spirit, but in a resurrected body made new and perfect. We should rejoice and celebrate the empty tomb!