The Triumph Over His Tomb

Title: The Triumph Over His Tomb

Bible Book: Revelation 1 : 18

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Resurrection



According to Jimmy Dunn, “The death of the pharaoh (in ancient Egypt) was accompanied by a formal announcement, ‘The falcon is flown to heaven and (his successor) is arisen in his place.’ ” (

For the past several weeks, my mind has been wrapped around a similar, more modern phrase that was used in European monarchies. Apparently the phrase originated in France as “Le roi est mort, vive le roi,” and the heralds used it to proclaim the death of one French king and the accession of his successor. (

According to Edward Latham, “The words are said to have been used for the first time at the death of Charles VII (in 1461) and the accession of Louis VI.” (Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia Of 15,000 Illustrations, # 2244)

The English translation of this phrase is: “The king is dead, long live the king!” Now we, as Christian heralds, can proclaim this phrase, but the amazing thing is that the king who lives is the same person as the king who has died!

Our text records the words of Christ to John on the Isle of Patmos, and He said, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18).

This morning, I want you to go with me to an empty tomb.

The first stage of this journey brought us to the house of Annas then of Caiaphas, to the hall of Pilate and to the court of Herod. In all of this we considered The Travesty Of His Trial. Last week we journeyed to Gethsemane, to the Praetorium hall, and finally to bloody Calvary where we observed The Tortures Of His Tree. Today our journey leads us to consider Jesus and The Triumph Over His Tomb.

In order to come with me on this journey, the steps you take must be steps of faith. In order to deny the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, some have argued that He did not even really die. But I want to declare to you today that …

I. There Is Triumph In His Actual Mortality (His Actual Death)

(Revelation 1:18) I am he that liveth, and was dead…

A. Consider The Theories That Contradict His Death And Resurrection (see notes)

1. The Swoon Theory

The Theory Defined - Jesus did not really die, He only swooned, and therefore the disciples saw only a revived or resuscitated Christ. Christ was nailed to a cross and suffered from shock, pain and loss of blood. But instead of actually dying, He only fainted (swooned) from exhaustion. When He was placed in the tomb, He was still alive and the disciples, mistaking Him for dead, buried Him alive. After several hours, He revived in the coolness of the tomb, arose, and departed.

The Refutation - The swoon theory cannot answer the problem of the linen wrappings lying undisturbed, exactly as they had been when around the body of Christ. Christ would have had to perform a miracle of wiggling out of the wrappings which were wound tightly about the body with over a hundred pounds of spices in the wrappings without someone to help unwrap Him, as in the case of Lazarus in John 11.

2. The Hallucination Theory Mark 16:11-14; Luke 24:11

The Theory Defined - This theory says all of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances were really only supposed appearances because actually the people only had hallucinations. In this way, all the post-resurrection appearances can be dismissed.

The Refutation - How could so many people have hallucinations – especially 500 at one time? Furthermore, the appearances happened under different conditions and were spread out over different times. And, don’t forget, the disciples were reluctant to believe in the resurrection in the first place!

3. The Impersonation Theory

The Theory Defined - This is the view that the appearances were not really Christ at all, but someone impersonating Him. This, the opponents say, is evident because in some cases they did not recognize Him at first (or at all).

The Refutation - 1. The disciples were reluctant to believe in the resurrection, were doubtful and would have been hard to convince unless it was really Him, as was the case with Thomas. 2. It would have been impossible to impersonate Christ’s wounds. This was Christ’s proof to Thomas that it was really Him (cf. John 20:24-25).

4. The Spiritual Resurrection Theory

The Theory Defined - This is the view that Christ’s resurrection was not a real physical resurrection. Proponents of this theory assert that Christ’s body remained in the grave and His real resurrection was spiritual in nature. It was only told this way to illustrate the truth of spiritual resurrection.

The Refutation - A physical body did disappear from the tomb. If it was only a spiritual resurrection, then what happened to the body? History shows there was a body there and it disappeared. The enemies of Christ were never able to produce the body nor disprove the resurrection.

5. The Theft Theory Matthew 27:62-66; 28:11-15

The Theory Defined - The disciples stole the body and claimed that He rose from the dead.

The Refutation - Again, such a theory ignores the evidence of the linen wrappings and the empty tomb. If someone had stolen the body, they would have either taken the body and left the wrappings scattered or piled in a heap, but only resurrection could account for the position of the linen wrappings with the body absent.

6. The Unknown Tomb Theory Matthew 27:59-60; Mark 15:47

The Theory Defined - One of the earliest theories present to explain everything away is that the disciples did not know where the tomb was located and could not have found the empty grave. This theory depends on the belief that those who were crucified were tossed into a common pit and were not allowed to be buried.

The Refutation - This theory also disregards totally the straightforward historical narrative about the events surrounding Christ’s burial and the post-resurrection scene. The Gospel record indicates that Joseph of Arimathea took the body to his own private tomb--not a public mass burial ground. According to Scripture, the body of Christ was prepared for burial according to the burial customs of the Jews; the women sat opposite the tomb and watched. Not only did Joseph of Arimathea and the women know where the tomb was, so did the Romans--they placed a guard there. (Josh McDowell, The Resurrection Factor, pp. 77-78).

(All notations are from an article entitled “False Theories Against the Resurrection of Christ” by J. Hampton Keathley III)

B. Consider The Things That Certify His Death And Resurrection

(Acts 1:1-3) The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, {2} Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: {3} To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

1. His Death On The Tree Is Certified

a. By The Soldiers

(John 19:31-36) The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. {32} Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. {33} But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: {34} But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. {35} And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. {36} For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

That not a bone was broken tells us that He was the Passover Lamb.

Cf. (Exodus 12:46) In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

(Numbers 9:11-12) The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. {12} They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.

b. By The Serum

(John 19:34) But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

Matthew J. Slick of the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry said…

The blood loss results in extreme thirst as the body craves water to restore the lost blood. Jesus said, "I thirst" (John 19:28). The heart beats so hard trying to compensate for the loss of oxygen (due to the lack of blood) in the body, that it eventually ruptures. At this point the chest cavity fills with fluid. The soldier pierced Jesus' side and out came blood and water, signifying that the heart had stopped beating and the blood was settling in the chest cavity. Jesus was dead.


c. By The Sepulchre

(John 19:38-40) And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. {39} And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. {40} Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

2. His Departure From The Tomb Is Certified

a. By The Angels Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:5-6; Luke 24:4-6; John 20:11-13

b. By His Absence Luke 24:6, 12; John 20:3-8

c. By His Appearances Mark 16:9,12,14; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8

(See footnote #2 in The Scofield Reference Bible, page 1043, on “The order of our Lord’s appearances.”)

J. Vernon McGee said…

For those who ask why Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, Proverbs 8:17 says: “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” She sought Him and she sought Him early.

II. There Is Triumph In His Amazing Miracle

(Revelation 1:18) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore…

A. The Central Aspect Of This Miracle

1. It Is Central To Our Sermon

(1 Corinthians 15:14) And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

2. It Is Central To Our System

(1 Corinthians 15:14-15) And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. {15} Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

3. It Is Central To Our Salvation

(1 Corinthians 15:17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

B. The Continuing Aspect Of This Miracle

1. This Miracle Finds Continuance In His Power

(Philippians 3:10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

2. This Miracle Finds Continuance In His Priesthood Hebrews 7:16-25

3. This Miracle Finds Continuance In His Promise 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Cor. 15:51-55

III. There Is Triumph In His Authoritative Message

(Revelation 1:18) … I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in which God has the last word. (Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia Of 15,000 Illustrations, # 6254)

A. He Has The Authority To Lock Or Loose When It Comes To Damnation (Hell)

1. He Can Secure You Within

(Matthew 16:15-18) He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? {16} And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. {17} And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. {18} And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

2. Or He Can Shut You Out (It’s an open and shut case!)

(Revelation 3:7) And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

B. He Has The Authority To Lock Or Loose When It Comes To Death

1. Death Has Been Consumed

(Hebrews 2:9) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

(He tasted death and death was swallowed up in victory!)

2. Death Has Been Conquered

(Hebrews 2:14) Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

3. Death Has Been Captivated

(Hebrews 2:15) And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

(Ephesians 4:8) Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

One of the great preachers of the Puritan era (John Owen) captured the real meaning of the resurrection in his sermon entitled, “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.” The title is more than a play on words. It contains profound truth. - Gospel Herald (Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia Of 15,000 Illustrations, # 6272)


Dr. Tony Compolo tells the story of a little preaching competition that he had with his pastor at the church he once attended. Tony preached the perfect sermon, perfect in every way. He had taken the congregation to the heights of glory. And as he sat down beside his pastor, Tony patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.” The old pastor got up and said something like this…

It’s Friday. Jesus is praying. Peter’s a sleeping. Judas is betraying.

But Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday. Pilate’s struggling. The council is conspiring. The crowd is vilifying. They don’t even know that Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday. The disciplines are running like sheep without a shepherd.

Mary’s crying. Peter is denying. But they don’t know that Sunday’s a comin’.

It’s Friday. The Romans beat my Jesus. They robe Him in scarlet. They crown Him with thorns. But they don’t know that Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday. See Jesus walking to Calvary. His blood dripping. His body stumbling. And his spirit’s burdened. But you see, it’s only Friday.

Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday. The world’s winning. People are sinning. And evil’s grinning.

It’s Friday. The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross. They nail my Savior’s feet to the cross. And then they raise him up next to criminals.

It’s Friday. But let me tell you something: Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday. The disciples are questioning. What has happened to their King? And the Pharisees are celebrating that their scheming has been achieved. But they don’t know: It’s only Friday. Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday. He’s hanging on the cross feeling forsaken by His Father.

Left alone and dying. Can nobody save Him? Oh, it’s Friday. But Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday. The earth trembles. The sky grows dark. My King yields his spirit.

It’s Friday. Hope is lost. Death has won. Sin has conquered. And Satan’s just a laughing.

It’s Friday. Jesus is buried. A soldier stands guard. And a rock is rolled into place.

But it’s Friday. It is only Friday.

Sunday is a comin’.

Tony recorded that that the sermon reached such an excitement that when the preacher delivered the final, ‘It’s Friday!’ the whole congregation roared back, ‘BUT SUNDAY’S COMIN’!’

In my thinking, one of the greatest Easter songs that we have was written during the Easter season of 1874. While having his devotions one evening, a man named Robert Lowry was so overwhelmed with the events associated with Christ’s resurrection, especially with these words recorded in Luke 24:6-8 (Luke 24:6-8) He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, {7} Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. {8} And they remembered his words,

Soon Robert Lowry found himself seated at the little pump organ in the parlor of his home, and in a very spontaneous fashion – music and words began to flow forth from his heart. With a vivid contrast between the mood of the verses and the mood of the refrain, He wrote…

Vs. 1 Low in the grave He lay – Jesus, my Savior! Waiting the coming day – Jesus, my Lord!

Vs. 2 Vainly they watch His bed – Jesus, my Savior! Vainly they seal the dead – Jesus, my Lord!

Vs. 3 Death cannot keep his prey – Jesus, my Savior! He tore the bars away – Jesus, my Lord!


Up from the grave He arose – With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;

He arose a Victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign:

He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

(Kenneth Osbeck, “101 More Hymn Stories”)

6276. They Came To Empty Tomb

They came to the quiet garden

In the early morning gloom,

And there in the shadowed darkness

They found an empty tomb.

They brought their scented spices

To anoint the hallowed dead,

But found, to their amazement,

The living Lord instead.

Their hearts were heavy-laden—

Bowed down with deep despair—

But when they lifted tear-dimmed eyes,

Lo, Jesus was standing there.

They thought all hope had ended

With Calvary’s dying breath,

But they found a powerful Saviour,

Triumphant over death!

On that wonderful Easter morning,

In a garden sweet with dew,

He came from the grave—a world to save—

To live and reign anew.

So oft in the midst of sorrows

When hope seems cold and dead,

With lifted eyes, we too may see

An empty tomb instead!

—Author Unknown

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