March 23: At the Empty Tomb

Read Luke 23:50-24:12 

During His ministry, Jesus had attempted to clearly communicate not only the reality of His death but also the hope of His resurrection. In many ways, it seems that it was not until the night before the crucifixion that the disciples began to understand as they ate with Him in the Upper Room (Jn. 13-16). But, even then, the reality of His death loomed large while the hope of the resurrection was overlooked. 

As Jesus took his last breath, there was no comforting voice in the crowd of onlookers saying, “This is terrible, but it is not the end. He will rise again!” In fact, every one of His disciples except John had fled during those critical hours. 

When His body was taken from the cross, two seemingly fringe men took it from there. To be sure, they demonstrated genuine care for the Messiah. And yet, even their concern was for the proper preparation of and entombment of His body. They did not seem to be placing Him there in anticipation of resurrection just three days later. 

Then, after the Sabbath, when the women came to the tomb, they came with still more spices. They were expecting to find a dead body that they could lovingly further embalm. Even when they discovered the stone rolled away and the body missing, the possibility of resurrection was not a first register thought for them. They were perplexed (v. 4) and even assumed that someone had taken His body (Jn. 20:1, 15). 

But He had risen! 

There is a lesson in the response of these men and women for us as well. These people were so fixated on the present tragedy of Christ’s death that they initially overlooked the promised hope of His resurrection. Do the discouragements of some of the realities of your life at times blind you to the hope-filled promises of God? 

May the resurrection of Jesus be proof of God’s faithfulness to His promises then and still today! 


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March 22: Dicianni and the Resurrection

When Jesus took the final steps of His journey to the empty tomb, He held the keys of death and Hades. What might it have been like to witness the moment that death died and the Author of Life stepped out of the grave?

Present-day artist Ron Dicianni attempted to capture that critical moment.

Resurrection by Ron Dicianni

Resurrection by Ron Dicianni


Read Hebrews 12:1-3; Luke 24:44

The primary piece of today’s stop along our journey to the empty tomb is a moving video that tells the story of a modern piece of art. The verses you read today will give you a deeper appreciation for the fact that there is a great cloud of faithful witnesses, who anticipated and prophesied of the coming of Jesus . . . including His crucifixion and resurrection.

Enjoy the art and the story of its development!




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March 21: Promises Fulfilled

Read Luke 24:1-8

He’d been crucified then laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. Make no mistake, He would not use it for long, just three days, in fact. The journeye, He’d promised, would lead to an empty tomb, death having been conquered, sin having been laid to rest.

Since before He was born in the Bethlehem stable, Jesus’ journey was headed for the empty tomb. He’d promised it, predicted it, spoken of it many times. Yes, He had promised an empty tomb!

John 2:18-22

“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Matthew 12:40

(A)s Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 16:21

Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

John 10:17-18

 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.




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March 20: When the Curtain Tore

Read Matthew 27:45-56 

How many spectators gathered the day that Jesus and the two thieves were crucified? It is difficult to know. Golgotha was intentionally situated near a public thoroughfare so those who passed by would find fair warning of the consequences of violating Roman rule. Some must have stopped and taken in the “entertainment.” Meanwhile, there were likely those who knew the ones being executed: friends and family members who gathered to mourn and express support as well as opponents who gathered to ridicule. 

Still, those who passed by and those present at the crucifixion must have represented only a small segment of all who were in and around Jerusalem that day. But even to others who initially knew nothing of the crucifixion, God gave clear indications that this was a day unlike any other. 

  • Darkness fell at midday. Yet, this was unlike any solar eclipse in its duration. 
  • The earth shook and rocks split. Certainly, this was an unsettling experience anywhere and earthquakes were not common for Jerusalem in that day. 
  • Tombs opened, saints were raised and walked around. That was not an everyday experience! 

To be sure, many in Jerusalem, who were initially ignorant of Jesus’ crucifixion, became aware of these occurrences. Did they, then, also find out that Christ’s death was simultaneous with these events? Did they put the pieces together and find the more complete picture reminding them that the wrath of God against sin was satisfied and hope was available to mankind? 

There was yet one other odd happening that day. The curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Although that may seem random and meaningless, it really isn’t. That curtain separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple (Ex. 26:33). This was the area where God’s presence was manifested. It was a place into which only the high priest could enter . . . and only once a year to make sacrifice for sin (Heb. 9, 10). The torn curtain at the time of Christ’s death reminds us that the sacrifice of Christ is the once-for-all sacrifice that gives each of us free access into the presence of God!  

God tore the curtain along the journey to empty tomb so that you and I can have access to God today!


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March 19: The Journey Through the Cross

Read Luke 23:33-49

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

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March 18: What Peter Did Not Do

Read Luke 23:31-34, 54-62

I know what it’s like to fall back on my word, leave promises unfulfilled. The best of my intentions have ended in emptiness more times than I’d like to admit. Like Peter, I have pledged to dig in and do what my heart knows to be true, “Lord, I’m ready to go with You both to prison and to death!” (v. 33). Like Peter, I have let fear chase that vow away and leave me with good I did not do, bully me into denying what I know to be true.

Peter said he was ready to journey into the tomb with the One he knew to be Lord and Savior. Still, he did not do it. When the time came to step up and stand up for Jesus, Peter failed. He denied even knowing Him. Three times he denied Him.

Jesus’ journey to the empty tomb travelled through lonely abandonment, the kind of emotional pain we can only imagine. First Judas sold their friendship for the price of a dead slave. Then His best friends fell asleep, clueless, while He agonized and prayed so hard blood seeped out of His pores. And now, when the time finally came to walk into the suffering, Peter straight up denied even knowing the man. The man called Jesus whose journey would soon lead to a tomb and leave it empty.

Peter, even after his empty promise, would three days later sand before Jesus’ empty tomb.

The same is true of all that you and I have not done, all the promises we’ve left empty and the vows we’ve neglected. Jesus’ murderers would lead Him out of that courtyard and up a hill to die on a cross forsaken and alone because of Peter’s and Judas’ and yours and my empty words and forgotten promises and less-than holy ways which deserve death in its meanest form.

Even though Peter did not do what he’d said he would do, even though he fell short, Jesus journeyed through the pain so that he and you and I could journey to the empty tomb.

Oh, what love Jesus the Savior has shown!

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March 17: Suffering in the Garden

Read Luke 22:39-53

To imagine His dread doesn’t touch how He must have felt. My mind can’t grasp this part of His journey. The inability of His disciples to stay awake and pray. The inner torment of the suffering He knew lay just beyond those olive trees. The horrible knowledge that His best friends would all abandon Him in His darkest hour, the hour through which He would journey for them. Yes, this part of the journey to the empty tomb is hard to imagine.

Still, He did it. He walked every step of that journey to the empty tomb so you and I could follow Him into eternal life.

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