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An Empty Tomb with an Angelic Explanation B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 5, 2023 4:00 am

An Empty Tomb with an Angelic Explanation B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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April 5, 2023 4:00 am

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It's important, folks, to understand the tomb is empty.

There is no explanation for that on a human level. The only explanation is the text of Scripture, an angel came, rolled the stone away and Christ who promised to rise was alive and walked out. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. In a court of law, if you have two reliable witnesses to a crime, the odds are you'll get the right verdict. You can imagine, then, how easy it is to get the truth with several believable witnesses. Keep that in mind today as John MacArthur puts the resurrection of Jesus on trial, so to speak. You'll hear eyewitness accounts, both from followers of Jesus and from those who hated Him as John walks you through precise details from Scripture that may radically alter your understanding of Easter.

It's all part of John's current series titled The Empty Tomb. So, turn to the book of Luke and follow along with John MacArthur. As we come to Luke's final chapter, the resurrection will dominate this whole chapter. Luke's account does not give us all the details. It doesn't repeat some of the things that are in Matthew, Mark and John.

But he also has some facts that the others don't have and we're going to look at all of these things. But when it comes to the resurrection, there are four key truths that all four writers deal with. Number one, the empty tomb.

Let's look at verse 1. But on the first day of the week at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. But when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. Clearly, the testimony of Luke is the tomb is empty, the stone is rolled away and a group of women go in and see that. They are eyewitnesses to the reality of the empty tomb. Now at early dawn would be, I guess, in our vernacular, the crack of dawn.

Now this is where we begin to put the pieces together. Mark says the sun was risen. Matthew says it began to dawn.

John says it was still dark. Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb, doesn't look in, just sees the stone away, concludes, oh boy, somebody's stolen his body, spins, goes and tells Peter and John. They're pretty incredulous about it.

They're going to check it out for themselves. They start back to the tomb. By the way, Mary Magdalene did not think for one split second of a resurrection, never entered her mind. Instant conclusion, somebody stole his body.

Had no concept of a resurrection in her mind. John then follows the story, if you follow John's account, of Peter and John as they rush to the tomb. And John being younger, remember, runs faster and gets there first. What are they doing? They're running to verify Mary Magdalene's story that somebody has stolen his body. So in the dawn, the women are already approaching the tomb.

The men are still a couple of miles away, headed in that direction. So let's go back to the tomb and pick it up with the women. Verse 3, when they entered, they didn't find the body of the Lord Jesus. Unlike the impulsive Mary Magdalene who drew a conclusion without looking, they go in to the tomb.

All the natural assumptions would be that Mary Magdalene was correct. Somebody had to steal the body because dead people don't go someplace. Dead people don't get up and walk out of a tomb, they have to be taken out.

So her conclusion is a very reasonable conclusion. But there's just a beautiful little indication by Luke here that I love. When they entered, they didn't find the body of the Lord Jesus. It could have said the body of Jesus. Lord Jesus, that is not a title used in the description of the death and burial of Jesus, but it's a title that is His by way of resurrection. God raised Him from the dead and declared Him Lord. In fact, that is exactly what Peter said on Pentecost. Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ. He is now the Lord.

He has now been given a name which is above every name, the name Lord, that at that name every knee should bow. What do we need to draw from this? The tomb is empty. The tomb is empty. The soldiers know it's empty, that's why they left.

If the body was still there, they would still be guarding it. They're not there. They're not in the scene. They never interact with the women at all. The women never see them. They're gone.

Why? Because there's nobody there. Clearly the women look and find no one there. Amazing because He was stoned in, sealed in, guarded so that there was no way anybody could come and remove the body, yet it's gone. Clearly the followers of Jesus didn't steal it because their assumption was somebody else stole it. They didn't expect a resurrection. Whatever did happen to the body of Jesus, no one saw. Soldiers didn't see it. They were hit with a divine anesthetic, blazing appearance of an angel in an earthquake.

It wasn't the followers of Jesus who came and stole the body. They knew that. Soldiers knew that. They knew something very powerful, very unnatural had happened. So let's pick up what they said. Go back to Matthew 28 when they finally got to the Jewish leaders to try to explain, verse 11, while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city, reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And just exactly what did they say? Well, they reported all that had happened.

What would they then say? Sirs, there was this really, really severe earthquake. And then there was this blazing, flashing, dazzling being rolled the stone away.

And then we were knocked out. And when he came to, the body was gone. That's what they said because that's what happened. Verse 12, and when they had assembled with the elders and council together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers. Really?

You reward them for that? Well they said to them, you are to say His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep. Huh, they're not likely to say that because the Roman soldier who slept on his guard would be more than court-martialed, he could even be executed.

But you're to lie. And if it comes to the governor's ears, Pilate, who was the commander and chief of all soldiers, they knew they would be in trouble. The Jewish leaders say, we'll win him over and keep you out of trouble.

Well save your hide. And they took the money and did as they had been instructed and this story was widely spread among the Jews and is to this day, to the day that Matthew is writing, that is still the story the disciples came and stole the body. The Roman soldiers knew it was a lie. They were bribed. The Jews knew it was a lie.

They paid the bribe. The tomb was empty. There was no explanation other than the soldiers' experience and they were paid off not to tell the truth. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, it would have been an easy thing for the Jews to prove, just bring out His body. But they couldn't. So they entangled themselves in this hopeless series of absurdities trying to explain away the empty tomb.

And they came up with a lie, a huge lie to cover the truth. They never, no Jewish leaders, no Jewish people ever denied the tomb was empty. They just invented the lie that the disciples had stolen it, a lie that is impossible because the disciples, the women, the men had no expectation that Jesus would rise. It's important, folks, to understand the tomb is empty.

There is no explanation for that on a human level. The only explanation is the text of Scripture, an angel came, rolled the stone away and Christ who promised to rise was alive and walked out. And by the way, the empty tomb alone was enough to convince John. He was the only one really convinced. According to John 20 verses 6 to 8, John saw the empty tomb, saw the clothes lying there and believed. Nobody else did.

The women are in shock. The first important testimony is that that tomb was empty. Now some have said, well they went to the wrong tomb. No, they didn't go to the wrong tomb, they knew the tomb they were to go to cause they had been there on Friday night. They knew the tomb. And the Jews knew the tomb because that's the tomb which they sealed and guarded and the tomb was empty. And there's no way the disciples stole His body.

What fool would steal a body and then die as a martyr for a hoax? The second element of this story that is so important is the angelic messenger, the angelic messengers, verses 4 through 7. The women are in shock because the body is gone, they're about to be terrified, verse 4. And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel like the angel who had come in the darkness when the soldiers were still there and removed the stone.

Same dazzling messengers. And as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and the third day rise again. The first great evidence of the resurrection is the empty tomb.

Listen, the second great evidence of the resurrection is divine revelation...divine revelation. They are perplexed. Back to verse 4, they are perplexed.

No idea what occurred. The whole ordeal, the trial, the cross, the whole thing is surreal, if not outright bizarre. As they stand in the dawning sunlight and shadows, they're jolted into the most frightening scene they have ever experienced in their entire lives. There's no reason to assume that any of these women had seen angels apart from the mother of our Lord. Two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing. John describes them as two angels. Angels appear often in human form. Mark describes one of them as a young man. So they are angels, spiritual beings who can take on human form and take on the form of a young man.

That would be a consistent thing for an angel to do because angels don't age. Clearly there are two of them, perhaps because of Deuteronomy 19, 15, two witnesses to validate anything. However, Matthew and Mark speak only of one who speaks. Matthew and Mark say an angel spoke, an angel spoke, don't refer to two, simply identifying the fact that there were two angels but they spoke one at a time. They spoke separately and I am sure they probably spoke repeatedly because you have a little bit of variation in what they say. Matthew, Mark and Luke give you a little variation on what they actually said, which would indicate to me that it was a very somewhat supernatural, natural conversation, that they would say something and the women would be hard pressed to process that and one at a time, not in unison, they would speak and so Matthew and Mark tell us what the individual angels said, though we know from John and Luke there were two of them. They had a conversation with angels for the first time in their lives, trying to sort it out.

Again, it's that wonderful natural sense of not trying to artificially tie these things together. They said the same thing a little bit different ways, no doubt several times. At first when the women saw them, verse 4 it says, they stood near them. Later John says when Mary Magdalene came back, at a later time she comes back, they were sitting.

There's no contradiction there. This again is a very kind of natural scene. They are standing and later they're sitting at the place where Jesus had been laying inside the tomb. They're wearing these dazzling clothes, like the dazzling appearance of Jesus in the Transfiguration, the blazing appearance of the saints in Revelation 19 who return with something of the glory, the Shekinah reflection of heaven itself. This is clearly indicating that these are divine messengers.

There's no other explanation. They're not just young men. They're not just angels who are men. And you can't tell that they're really angels.

They are angels who appear in the form of young men but who are dazzling, blazing, brilliant, shining beings that are obviously heavenly. And the result is predictable as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They are terrified, em phobos, an emphatic form of the word phobos from which you get phobia, fear, panic, terror sets in. And even after the message is given by the angels, their terror is not really mitigated because Mark 16, 8 says that after they heard the message, they went out, fled from the tomb for trembling and astonishment had gripped them and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid. I mean, this is a kind of Isaiah experience, you know, where he collapses in on himself in chapter 6. This is a kind of Ezekiel experience where he goes into one of those spiritual comas when in the presence of angels. This is a John experience when he falls over dead in Revelation 1 in the vision of the glorified Son.

This is an experience like the Transfiguration. They're absolutely terrified and they run in astonishment. By the way, as they run, as they head out, starts to dawn on them, Matthew 28, 8, and they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy. They start to process this.

Tomb is empty. We just had a conversation with angels. And as the fear fades, the joy takes over as they head to the Apostles who are there, minus Peter and John who are on the way. And by the time they get there, they're just blabbering their heads off to tell those Apostles what has happened.

But it starts out terrifying. They bow their faces to the ground. That's the recognition of holy presence, that kind of bowing. They know they're in the presence of angels. And angels are associated among the Jews with the giving of the Law, right?

The Law came by angels. This is so very, very important because the angels speak. And this, my dear friends, is divine revelation from God, personal testimony from God through His angels as to the reality of the resurrection. The men said to them in verse 5, why do you seek the living one among the dead?

A kind of mild rebuke. The living one who is the resurrection and the life, who said, I am the way, the truth and the life. The one, Romans 6, 9 says, whom death could not master, whom death could not hold. This, by the way, is the first announcement Jesus is alive. Why are you seeking the living one, the one who is life, the one who cannot die, the one death cannot hold among the dead? And then the angels get very specific. Verse 6, He is not here.

Why? But He has risen passive. He has been raised, agerthe, He has been raised. This is the only possible explanation for the empty tomb. And it is the testimony of God's holy messengers.

It is inerrant, it is authoritative, it is irrefutable and it is a fulfillment of the promise and they remind them of that. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified in the third day, rise again, threefold, delivered, crucified, risen. He told you.

He told you way back in Galilee. This is nothing new. This is why there's a mild rebuke.

Why do you seek the living one among the dead? It's a mild rebuke. He's been saying this for a long time. If you go back into Luke 9 when He's still in Galilee, in verse 22, He warns them and says, the Son of Man must suffer many things, be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and be raised up on the third day. He told them that. He reiterated again in chapter 9 verse 43, they were all amazed at the greatness of God while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing. He said to His disciples, let these words sink into your ears, the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.

But they didn't understand this statement. It was concealed from them so they might not perceive it and they were afraid to ask Him about it, even though He said it. And by the way, He repeats it and repeats it and repeats it. He makes the same promise several times recorded in the book of Matthew, several times recorded in the book of Mark, another time in the eighteenth chapter of Luke. This is what's going to happen and it started all the way back in Galilee. Don't you remember that He's going to be delivered, He's going to be crucified and He's going to be raised...delivered, crucified, raised. So the evidence concerning the resurrection is the empty tomb and there is no other explanation for the empty tomb than a resurrection. The Jews didn't steal His body. The Romans didn't steal His body. The Apostles didn't steal His body.

The women didn't steal His body. His enemies had no reason to steal His body and fabricate a resurrection. His friends didn't even believe in a resurrection and nor would they steal His body, fabricate a false resurrection and then go out and die as martyrs for a phony.

The angels give the only possible explanation. He's not here because He's risen. So my dear friends, you have, as we close, the first two great proofs of the resurrection, an empty tomb, two divine revelations...divine revelation. And you start in the book of Acts and the first sermon, God raised Him from the dead. You come to the book of Romans, God raised Him from the dead. You come to 1 Corinthians 15, God raised Him from the dead. You come to Ephesians 1, God raised Him from the dead. You come to Colossians, God raised Him from the dead.

You come to Revelation 1, He has the power of death. This is the ongoing testimony of Scripture, God's holy Word that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God. So to deny the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is, one, to deny the reality of historical evidence and, two, to deny the Word of God. And as I said, Hebrews 2 says, the Law came by angels.

They were used to having angels deliver the revelation of God. The issue for those who reject the resurrection is not a lack of evidence, it's a love of sin and a hardness of heart. The demon doctrines that deny Christ's resurrection are driven by wickedness. People are unwilling to accept the necessary and inescapable consequences of the resurrection, namely that Jesus is therefore Lord. If you believe in the resurrection, Jesus is therefore Lord. If you don't want Jesus as Lord, then you better deny the resurrection. If there is a resurrection, Jesus is Lord and the Bible is true.

And every man is therefore accountable to his lordship. The single greatest evidence of the resurrection...listen to the testimony of God given by angels from His presence and reiterated by the Spirit of God inspiring the writers of the New Testament. And I will say what Geldenhuys said, and it's wonderfully said, if Jesus hadn't risen, the New Testament would never have been written...never. For who would have taken the trouble to write the biography of anyone who had laid tremendous claim to Messiah-ship and divinity but whose career terminated in a shameful death?

But God be praised, Jesus did arise and that is why the group of men who wrote the books of the New Testament took up their pens with such enthusiasm and holy conviction and throughout their writings we perceive the clear note of their firm conviction that Jesus Christ who had died rose again from the dead and was invested with divine power and glory. Father, thank You for a time in Your Word, so precious, so rich. Fill our hearts with joy in believing, as Scripture says. Thank You for giving us life through Your resurrection. Now, Lord, draw to Yourself those who need to believe and be saved from sin and death and hell and anticipate the glorious resurrection that awaits those who love Christ. Work Your work in every heart, we pray in Christ's name. Amen. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary.

His current series is titled The Empty Tomb. John, you talked today about a divine revelation at the empty tomb. These angels appeared there and told the women about Christ's resurrection. That kind of supernatural message is very rare even in Scripture and unheard of these days. We have something even better, the Scriptures. Talk about why it is we trust the Word of God as much as if an angel stood before us and gave us a direct revelation from God. Yeah, you know, Phil, you're aware of this. You hear people today, even Bible teachers, say, listen for the voice of God. Learn to listen for the voice of God. Right, I cringe when I hear that.

Yeah, I do, too. What are you talking about? You mean you're going to trust me to decipher the Word of God in my head?

Based on what? How do I know it's God and not my own thoughts? We have no promise of revelation. The Scripture, once for all, delivered to the saints is done and if you add anything to it, you'll be added the plagues that are written in it. So we have the full revelation of God. If you want to hear the voice of God, if you want to hear the voice of God and know you're hearing the voice of God, open your Bible. Now that's not enough because you could open your Bible and read it and not understand it so the message doesn't get through. So the key is not just to read what's in the Bible but to understand what it means by what it says. And that is, I mean, that's my raison d'etre.

That's what I live and breathe and have my being to do. That's why grace to you is here. We want to explain the meaning of Scripture so people will hear the voice of God. And I want to just remind you that we have a tool, a resource that would be the most accessible resource of all to help you understand the meaning of Scripture, which is to hear the voice of God. And that's the MacArthur Study Bible. Millions of these have been distributed in, I don't know, eight or nine different languages. Back in 1997, the first edition of the MacArthur Study Bible was available only in the New King James and now it's available in the New American Standard, the English Standard Version.

It's also available in Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Russian. The Study Bible is the text of Scripture and then there are 100,000 cross-references. Cross-referencing helps you explain the Bible, state-of-the-art maps, all kinds of charts and graphs. And then beyond that, there's about 25,000 study notes at the bottom of every page explaining the Bible in all the books and chapters to help you understand the meaning.

This is a phenomenally important tool. Again, you don't hear the voice of God unless you know what Scripture means by what it says. You're not free to interpret it any way you wish. You have to know the true meaning. So the notes help explore the background culture, geography, language, and cross-referencing that gets at the real meaning. We have hardbound editions, leather editions, but start with something.

It fits into every budget. Get a copy of the MacArthur Study Bible and truly begin to hear the voice of God. That's right, and the footnotes explain virtually every passage of Scripture.

Whenever you're wondering what a particular verse might mean, the notes are there to give clarity. To get your copy of the MacArthur Study Bible, contact us today. To order, call 800-55-GRACE or visit our website, The MacArthur Study Bible makes an ideal gift for any student of Scripture.

And as John mentioned, the MacArthur Study Bible comes in the English Standard, New King James, and New American Standard versions. Again, to order, call 800-55-GRACE or shop online at A reminder, too, we appreciate hearing how grace to you is helping you grow spiritually. If you've never written to us, or if it's been a while, jot a note to share your story. And be sure to include the call letters of this station when you write.

That's a big help to us. Our mailing address, grace to you, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. And our email, letters at

That's letters at Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Keep in mind you can watch Grace to You television on Sundays, DirecTV channel 378, and also be back here Thursday when John looks at why you can be certain the resurrection did take place and why your faith in the resurrected one is not in vain. Join us for another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-05 05:35:13 / 2023-04-05 05:45:30 / 10

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