The Empty Tomb

As we are being challenged to read and study the book of John, I wanted to share some of my personal sermon notes with you to help you understand the book. I preached through the entire book over the course of 1 year when I pastored First Baptist Church Del Rio. Enjoy!

Introduction—Thanksgiving is a time for us to be thankful for all that God has blessed us with. We gather with family, friends, food, and fellowship. It truly is a time to be thankful.

Following Jesus’ death & burial, the followers must have been wondering about their next move. I am not sure they could be thankful that their Lord was no longer with them. They must have sensed a lot of confusion during this time. Oh, yes they were told of the coming events, they were forewarned about the hatred the world would have for Jesus, and they were able to ask any and all questions about how this would happen.

When we have Jesus we are blessed.

Read—John 20:1-18

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. 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!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

11 Now 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 He asked her, “Woman, 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 ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending 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.


  1. Verse 1—The first day of the week is Sunday. So, Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene is going to see Jesus.
  2. When you came here this morning, did you come to see Jesus? It’s Sunday morning, and we are here to investigate our Lord. That’s what we are doing. You and I need to know where is Jesus. We are searching for the Master. 
  3. We open the Scriptures to see Jesus. If you came to church on a Sunday morning and the preacher got up to give the sermon, and the sermon had nothing to do about nothing, you would leave here still wondering where is this Jesus that people talk about.
  4. Jesus is to be the centrality of all sermons coming from this pulpit. If I take a detour from where I am supposed to go, you call me out on it.
  5. Jesus is the One we seek, just like Mary Magdalene in our passage. 
  6. Oh, she probably went there to weep, grieve, or even pray since Jesus was locked up behind a huge boulder. But she knew where Jesus was. She wanted to be where Jesus was. 
  7. Do you want to be where Jesus is? You came to the right place this morning.
  8. Mary Magdalene saw that the stone has been removed from the entrance. She must have been wondering if she was at the right place because a stone of this size could not be moved without a degree of difficulty. 
  9. How was the stone rolled away?
  10. Matthew 28: 2—There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
  11. Mark 16:1-3—When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
  12. The reason they were going to anoint the Jesus body again was an act of love. This would keep the smell of the decaying body away. These followers loved their Lord. 
  13. Do you love Jesus that much? 
  14. Verse 2—Mary sees that Jesus’ body is gone and runs to tell Peter and John the news. The body is gone and I have no idea where they put Him.
  15. When we are confronted with bad news, we respond in various ways. Sometimes our minds just can’t handle what has occurred. This was the case of Mary Magdalene. 
  16. We too have responded in many ways when our hearts our hurt. I know that Mary knew Jesus was the Lord and He would defeat death, but it was still very confusing. 
  17. Mary goes to tell the disciples and she assumed that the body was stolen because she says, “they have Lord out of the tomb and I don’t know where they put Him.”
  18. No one could have possible pulled off a heist like that. The tomb was sealed with a large boulder and according to 
  19. Matthew 27:62-66The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. 
  20. Verse 3-4—Peter and John take off running, and John just blazes past big ol’ Peter and arrives first to the tomb. I imagined that would happen if Miguel and me took off running for a destination of some sort. He would obviously beat me there. 
  21. Verse 5-7—John waits on Peter to go first. Even though John was faster, Peter is tougher. Fearless. He walks on in and sees an amazing thing. He sees strips of linen and cloth right where Jesus body had been.
    1. The grave-clothes weren’t just thrown everywhere, but they where in the same place that Jesus laid, meaning it must have appeared like His body vanished. 
    1. In the NLT, John 20:7, states that the clothe was folded and lying apart from the other wrappings.
    1. Here we have remnants of a body thought to have been stolen, but with the impossible task of moving a stone guarded by a soldier from the greatest military on the planet at the time. 
    1. I am thankful for the grave clothes and what they represent. A Savior who did exactly what He said would do. 
    1. John 2:18-22—The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 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.
    1. John 11:25—Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
  22. Verse 8—In verse 8, John enters the empty tomb and he saw and he believed. I think so many of us are like John—cautious, scared, and unsure. We want to see so that we can believe. It helps our minds get a grip on what is going on.
    1. It is so important to be the model for others to see Jesus in you in order for them to believe.
    1. You represent the Kingdom of God, and people are looking for the genuine article. There is no such thing as an imitation Christian. 
  23. Verses 11-18—Mary Magdalene is the first person to see actually see the Risen Lord. If you have ever wondered about your ministry as a female, Jesus trusts you with the most vital information. He brought this precious news of His appearance to a woman in order for her to bring that news to the disciples. God obviously has a purpose for women in ministry.
    1. Mary is still distraught over the loss of Jesus
    1. She sees what seem like angels in the sitting in the tomb.
    1. They started talking to Mary. Mary may not be able to see much through her tears, but she can hear.
    1. The angels ask Mary, “Why are you crying?”
    1. My response would have been very sarcastic. I don’t like being asked something that I know the one asking knows the answer to. I would have said something like this: “WHY DO THINK I AM CRYING?”
    1. Of course that’s why I wasn’t allowed at this event and born much later. 
    1. Mary’s response is appropriate, “I can’t find my Jesus,” is what I hear from her statement. Mary needed Jesus to reassure her, to comfort her, and to show Himself to her.
    1. We need Jesus to assure us, comfort us, and show Himself to us.
    1. Jesus always comes through doesn’t He? 
    1. Look at His response to Mary’s confusion. Jesus says in verse 16, “Mary.” That’s it. Just her name.
    1. Jesus always knows how to get our attention. He can call out your name and if you know Him as your Lord, you can respond like Mary does.
    1. In verse 16, once Mary realizes it is Jesus calling her name, she responds with the title “teacher” or “Master.” 
    1. And so Jesus teaches her again in verse 17, that He is in the process of finalizing the resurrection status in order for all to call God their father. 
    1. Then in verse 18, Mary’s response is “I have seen the Lord!”
    1. Our response today should be no less as well. We too have seen the Lord in His Word of Truth!

Conclusion—Be thankful for the empty tomb and the grave clothes. They represent the Truth of the Gospel and are key items in the resurrection story that offers great hope for all people. 

An empty tomb.

Grave clothes.

Thank God! 

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry


Published by Larry E Floyd

Follower of Jesus the Messiah. Husband, father, grandfather, son, uncle, friend, and pastor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: