He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.
Come, see the place where the Lord lay (Matthew 28:6, NKJV).
“The Old Rugged Cross” will always be one of my favorite hymns, for the old rugged Cross is where the costly, bloody price was paid for my sin—and for yours. Without it, we would all be without hope in this world.
But the story doesn’t end at the Cross. Though we focus on that great sacrificial symbol throughout Holy Week—and rightfully so—that beloved Cross would be meaningless and powerless if it hadn’t culminated in the empty tomb. On Easter morning, our focus moves from Christ’s death to His Resurrection, for that is what we truly celebrate.
Without the empty tomb, the Cross, as precious as it is to those of us who have personally identified with its sacrifice, would be the saddest emblem in history, the symbol of the worst failure and defeat of all time. For if Christ had not risen from the dead, then He would merely have been a nice man who performed good deeds, modeled a good life, and then died a martyr, deserted by His followers, leaving nothing more than an example behind.
Praise be to God that the Story did NOT end there! God accepted His Son’s sacrifice, and visibly exhibited His acceptance by raising Jesus from the dead and restoring Him to power at the right hand of the Father. That very acceptance, shown in the Resurrection, is our insurance of resurrection as well. Because humanity had turned away from God, each choosing to go his or her own way, a tremendous price had to be paid to restore us to relationship with God. That price could only be paid by One without sin. No human being has ever met that criterion, except the One who was both Man and God—Jesus Christ Himself. Out of a depth of love that we can’t even begin to imagine, God sent His only Son to be that sinless sacrifice. Out of that same unconditional love, the Son willingly came and suffered an excruciating death on our behalf. But three days after being placed in the grave, He burst the bonds of death and hell and arose, victorious, opening the door to heaven once again.
That old rugged Cross will always be precious to me, but it is the empty tomb I will celebrate this Easter. May you too join the many choruses of hallelujahs resounding around the globe this Sunday morning as we celebrate the pivotal point of all history, the empty tomb!