Skip to content

Skip to table of contents


An Empty Tomb, Because Jesus Is Alive!

An Empty Tomb, Because Jesus Is Alive!

MATTHEW 28:3-15 MARK 16:5-8 LUKE 24:4-12 JOHN 20:2-18




What a shock it is for the women to discover what appears to be an empty burial place! Mary Magdalene runs off to “Simon Peter and to the other disciple, for whom Jesus had affection”​—the apostle John. (John 20:2) However, the other women at the tomb see an angel. And inside the memorial tomb is another angel, who is “clothed in a white robe.”​—Mark 16:5.

One of the angels tells them: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was executed on the stake. He is not here, for he was raised up, just as he said. Come, see the place where he was lying. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he was raised up from the dead, for look! he is going ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 28:5-7) So “trembling and overwhelmed with emotion,” the women run to report to the disciples.​—Mark 16:8.

By now, Mary has found Peter and John. Breathlessly, she reports: “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20:2) Peter and John take off running. John is faster and reaches the tomb first. He peers into it and sees the bandages, but he remains outside.

When Peter arrives, he goes right in. He sees the linen cloths and the cloth used to wrap Jesus’ head. John now enters, and he believes Mary’s report. Despite what Jesus said earlier, neither of them understands that he has been raised up. (Matthew 16:21) Puzzled, they head home. But Mary, who has come back to the tomb, remains there.

Meanwhile, the other women are on their way to tell the disciples that Jesus has been raised. While they are running to do so, Jesus meets them and says: “Good day!” They fall at his feet and ‘do obeisance to him.’ Then Jesus says: “Have no fear! Go, report to my brothers so that they may go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”​—Matthew 28:9, 10.

Earlier, when the earthquake occurred and the angels appeared, the soldiers at the tomb “trembled and became as dead men.” After recovering, they entered the city and “reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.” The priests then consulted with elders of the Jews. The decision was made to bribe the soldiers to hide the matter and to claim: “His disciples came in the night and stole him while we were sleeping.”​—Matthew 28:4, 11, 13.

Roman soldiers can be put to death if they fall asleep at their post, so the priests promise: “If this [their lie about having been asleep] gets to the governor’s ears, we will explain the matter to him and you will not need to worry.” (Matthew 28:14) The soldiers take the bribe and do what the priests say. Thus the false story of Jesus’ body being stolen spreads widely among the Jews.

Mary Magdalene is still grieving at the tomb. Stooping forward to look into it, she sees two angels in white! One sits at the head of where Jesus’ body had been lying and the other at the foot. “Woman, why are you weeping?” they ask. Mary answers: “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Turning around, Mary sees someone else. He repeats the angels’ question and adds: “Whom are you looking for?” Thinking that he is the gardener, she says: “Sir, if you have carried him off, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”​—John 20:13-15.

Actually, Mary is speaking to the resurrected Jesus, but at the moment she does not recognize him. However, when he says, “Mary!” she knows that it is Jesus, recognizing him by the familiar way he speaks to her. “Rabboni!” (meaning, “Teacher!”), Mary exclaims joyfully. Yet, afraid that he is about to ascend to heaven, she grabs hold of him. Hence, Jesus urges her: “Stop clinging to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.’”​—John 20:16, 17.

Mary runs to the place where the apostles and other disciples are gathered. She tells them: “I have seen the Lord!” adding her account to what they have heard from the other women. (John 20:18) Yet, the reports ‘seem like nonsense to them.’​—Luke 24:11.