He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:6
As I write this blog leading up to Easter, I am convicted to ask ourselves a question. The question is a heavy place to start but I’ve never been one to avoid difficult subjects. It seems every year around this time, there is an onslaught of opposition, primarily spiritual in nature and seeking to throw us off course. We may find ourselves particularly busy in the days and weeks leading up to Easter. We might get distracted by the cares of life. Or we might be in a position where we simply take note of the Gospel story one more time and ponder if it’s all really real.
So back to that question. If we can hit pause for a moment in our lives and simply ask ourselves something, I believe the question we must consider is this:
Is the tomb empty?
That’s the question I come back to as I begin to think upon Jesus and the events of Holy Week: from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday and everything in between. It’s easy to fall into trappings of doubt. It can all seem too fanciful and illogical. We can wrestle with the humanity of Christ; maybe being able to ascertain that yes, this man did live for a time. We can even acknowledge Him as a good teacher with a lot of good things to say about loving your neighbor, taking care of the sick and poor, and overall, just being a good human being. We can go that far and for a great percentage of humanity, that is the extent of what they are willing to concede.
But what about you and I? If the tomb is empty and all the evidence points to a story not made up, but 100% real and factual…what are we to do? I believe the story is real and after 1000s of years, no one has been able to effectively argue otherwise (for a great read on this, I recommend The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel; the book and the movie). Today I’m writing about what I hold firm as the truth. These things we must commit to (and recommit to) as we approach this time of year.
Let’s dig in!
1. Everything we believe hinges on the resurrection
He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:4
A true skeptic is able to dismiss everything about Christianity if they are somehow able to deny the resurrection. The apostle Paul would have been considered as one such skeptic in his pre-conversion days. Before becoming Paul, he was known as Saul; a fierce persecutor of Jesus’ followers. But having encountered Jesus in a real way, Paul’s life takes a 180. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul acknowledges that he is passing along information to his readers that was given to him. Paul was not an eyewitness to the empty tomb. But Paul has encountered those who have first-hand knowledge and saw both the empty tomb and the risen Christ (such as Peter and other disciples).
What Paul writes and what occurs post-Resurrection/Ascension has no meaning at all if such events did not occur. But what we see through Acts and the rest of the New Testament is an outpouring of God’s Spirit in accordance to what Jesus said would happen. The gospels independently confirm the empty tomb. There are witnesses who interacted with Jesus after His death and resurrection. There are no reasons to believe Jesus’ followers contrived or made up the story. And if it were mere folklore, would we still be talking about it all these years later?
2. Jesus’ resurrection is ours as well
For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:5,6
Moving forward, if we acknowledge that the resurrection is factual and have taken every effort to verify that the tomb is empty, there are implications for us. To walk it all back, we must understand why Jesus had to die. The whole of Scripture can be summarized with Jesus’ death as the focal point: all of the Old Testament moves us towards it and all of the New Testament (beside the Gospels) is the outworking that follows it. So if we are examining Jesus’ death and are struggling with the “why,” it is because we need to acknowledge our sinful nature and need for a Savior.
When we understand that sin’s punishment means certain death, we realize there is nothing which we can do to save ourselves. Our best efforts are “dirty rags” according to the Bible. We need a resurrection; a spiritual saving which makes a way for us not to experience death and hell. Physical death will come to us all. But when we breathe our last, our spirits pass into eternity; into either heaven or hell. When we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we are identifying with this very key tenet of the faith and our souls will be raised to life just as He was raised to life. Jesus’ resurrection is ours as well.
3. The world must respond to an empty tomb
Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths. So he went home, amazed at what had happened. Luke 24:12
Just as in Jesus’ day there were varied reactions to the resurrection, today there are many responses as well. Even not responding is still a response in itself. It seems much of the world takes this stance, either ignoring or simply not addressing the claims that Scripture so loudly profess as true and valid. But to live on this side of eternity, the world must still respond to the empty tomb and as Christians, we have the opportunity to present Jesus boldly and without shame.
Peter looked in at the tomb and went away astonished by what he saw. At first glance, we can walk away shaking our heads in amazement as well. The world around us may look in and see the linen cloths and even remark “wow, something amazing happened here.” But Peter’s eyes weren’t truly opened until he saw His risen Lord and Jesus again commissioned him for service in the Kingdom (John 24:15-19). This opportunity to not only accept the resurrection but to then live it out is what Jesus extends to us. Peter’s life was set on fire as a result. The world around us must see this same fire and passion in us. That way, they can respond affirmatively to all that Christ has done.
“He is not here; He has risen!” has to be one of the most hopeful statements in all of Scripture. We can know that whatever life brings, there is hope beyond the grave. The uncertainty, doubt, and worries of this life will never be able to shake the power of an empty tomb. We often walk around like half-charged phones, not realizing the power source we can tap into. Jesus’ resurrection gives us that power and He makes a way for us to declare freedom to a world that is in sin and bondage.
What I hope and pray for you this Easter season is for a fresh awareness of just how powerful the Gospel really is. This message has stood the test of time. It has held up under scrutiny and debate. It has not withered, it has not faded; in fact it is just as alive and vibrant today as it was on the morning the women and the disciples discovered an empty grave. If you acknowledge that the tomb is still empty, it means you must do something with that information. It’s too powerful to contain and hold in. It must be shared!
He is risen, He is risen indeed. God bless, I love you guys. Happy Easter!
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