The Gospels record that in the later afternoon of the day when Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathaea requested permission from Pilate to take the corpse of our Lord. Wrapping it in a clean linen clothe, Joseph laid it in his own tomb cut from the rock, and sealed the tomb by rolling a large stone over its door (Matt. 27:57–60; Mark 15:42–46; Luke 23:50–54). The tomb was located in a garden (John 19:41; 20:15). Joseph was helped by Nicodemus, who had once visited Christ by night and heard Him speak of the new birth by the Holy Spirit (John 19:38–42; cf. John 3:1–8). Though it was a terrible risk for them to identify with a man condemned by the Jewish Sanhedrin and killed like a criminal by the Roman governor, they honored Jesus even in His death because their hope was in the kingdom of God (Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51).
On the third day, the kingdom of God came with an earthquake, for the King rose from the dead (Matt. 28:2, 6). Just as Adam fell in a garden, so the last Adam rose up in a garden as the Firstborn of a new creation. His resurrection was no mere resuscitation of a dead body, but God’s decisive victory over death and hell (1 Cor. 15:21–22; Rev. 1:18), the exercise of the exceeding greatness of God’s mighty power for His people (Eph. 1:19–20). When God raised up Jesus Christ, He raised up with Him all of His chosen people from spiritual death to spiritual life, and ultimately to eternal glory (Eph. 2:6–7). No wonder the earth shook!
While we glory in the atoning death of Jesus Christ, we do not serve a dead Savior. The faithful covenant God raised up Jesus and exalted Him to God’s right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins to His people, both Jew and Gentile (Acts 5:30–31; 11:18). Though we cannot see the living Lord, the presence of the Holy Spirit in believers is a living testimony that Christ is risen.
Do you know the power of the empty tomb? Many people believe in Jesus as a past historical figure, a great teacher and perhaps even a Savior who died so that they could go to heaven. But do you know the living Lord Jesus? Is He alive and at work in you by His Spirit? True Christianity is not just a philosophy of life, but union and communion with the risen Lord. May He dwell in all our hearts by faith, and do so more and more until we are filled with all the fullness of God, so that He who works powerfully within His church will be glorified in Christ Jesus through all ages, forever and ever. Amen (Eph. 3:16–21).