John 20:1-18 (NIV) 1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
On verses 1-18: These verses speak about the most important event in human history: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For more on evidential support for the resurrection of Jesus, feel free to check out my sermon “Resurrection: Fact or Fiction” [Ryan, please insert the link to this April 7, 2019 sermon].
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is what separates Jesus from every other religious figure. Throughout history various individuals have started different religions and philosophical movements. Each of them claimed to know something about God, the purpose of life on earth, and how to secure a good afterlife. Then each of them died. For example, Muhammad founded Islam and then died of an illness. Siddartha Gautama started Buddhism and then died of food poisoning. Joseph Smith founded Mormonism and was shot and killed. Each of these individuals died and you never know if what they claimed was true, if they were lying, or if they were sincere but wrong. While these founders of various religious movements died and their bodies are still in their tombs to this day, only Jesus’ tomb is empty because only Jesus rose from the dead.
Without the resurrection of Jesus, we would have no hope of life after death, no assurance that Christ’s blood cleanses us from our sins, just a bunch of empty promises. Without the resurrection, our faith would be comparable to any other religion or philosophy: just a bunch of nice sounding ideas. But through His resurrection Christ proved that He is who He claimed to be: God, Saviour and Lord.
Lord Jesus, Your resurrection changes everything. Because You rose from the grave, we have assurance that we can trust what You say, that our sins are forgiven, that Your precious blood is enough to bring us back to God, and that there is eternal life after death for those who trust in You. Thank You again and again and again for the incomparable hope, the comfort and the joy that Your resurrection brings. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!