The seven most powerful words ever spoken didn’t come from the mouth of Jesus. In fact, they come from someone whose name we don’t even know.
Mark tells the story:
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (Mark 16:1-8).
On the way to the tomb early Sunday morning the women remembered a potential obstacle: they had no way to get inside the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. Perhaps in their grief they just hadn’t planned everything well.
But they soon realized they had no reason to worry.
The tomb was no longer sealed.
At this point stuff started happening really quickly.
They saw a young man. He said something. They ran in horror.
At some point in their flight, when their fear subsided, they recalled the young man’s words.
What he said was confirmed by what they remember seeing in the tomb.
There was no body.
“He has risen. He is not here.”
Seven words that changed the world.
Seven words that changed me, and you, and millions of others.
They became the triumphant cry of the early Christians. In fact, read through a few sermons in Acts, and you might be amazed to see that this simple message was what they preached.
The tomb was empty.
The cross was significant, of course, but crucifixions were relatively common in that world. In one sense, Jesus died the same way thousands of others did.
But one thing was different. Incredibly, remarkably, gloriously different.
All the other crucifixion victims stayed in their graves.
But Jesus didn’t, and that makes all the difference.
Sometime, when you get discouraged and wonder if the difficulties of faith are really worth it, think back to the empty tomb.
What it says is that this world isn’t all there is. The same power that raised him will raise you.
A day is coming when everyone will hear his voice, and followers of Jesus will be raised to live with him as God always intended.
Seven words, one powerful message: My tomb will one day be empty too.
He has risen; he is not here.