Running To The Tomb

Three days ago, Jesus suffered and died on the cross.

He cried out, “My God, my God. Why, why have you forsaken me!”

He said, “I thirst.”

He said, “It is finished.”

He committed his spirit into His Fathers hands and he was put into the tomb.

However, that was not the end, only the beginning. We suffered through Holy Saturday thinking it was over, over. That hate, despair, and darkness had defeated love, hope, and light. Everything we put hope in was gone. That Jesus was died and buried.

We wake to startling breaking news.

The startling breaking Good News is this: The Tomb is EMPTY!

Yes, Empty! Thank You God!

In John’s account of this great morning, Mary goes to the tomb to prepare the body of Jesus for burial upon finding that the tomb is empty runs to the apostles and tells them. On hearing this, Peter runs to the tomb only to find the wrappings that once covered the body of Jesus. Jesus was no longer there, no longer dead. This is vital to understand not in some intellectual or propositional way, but truly to realize that Jesus has risen. Peter is still not sure what to make of it. Soon, he will know and his life will never be the same again.

I feel a lot like Peter some of the time. I am not sure what to make of Jesus, of God but I run to God. I run and what I find amazes me. In Christ and in Christ alone I find my identity as one loved by God and I hope to run the race marked out for me fixing my eyes on Jesus. On this day, we throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles; on this day, we celebrate and praise the new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (Heb. 12:1-2, 1 Peter 1:3-4)

As Christians, our primary claim and proclamation should be Jesus is Lord and our mantra should be: “He is not here: for he is risen.” Jesus who suffered hell on a cross, buried, lay died for three days and rose again is Lord and Savior of all. He calls to all, “Come, come to all who are weary and find rest. I am the bread of life. I am the living water. Drink and eat of me and you will never thirst or hunger again.” Jesus doesn’t set up some complicated system of things you must do or say in order to receive what He offers. No! He says come and see. He offers freely love and grace; He offers freely Eternal Life to the full. He procured it on the cross and He gives it out wastefully.

A poll on Facebook asks why Jesus is important to you. The three options: I can be forgiven, I can feel peace, and I can overcome death. My first impulse is to choose the first option. It’s wrong. Yes, wrong. It’s not that I can be, or I can, but I am forgiven, at peace and Jesus overcame death so that you and I live to the full free from worry and fear. We are promised Eternal Life in Christ and that doesn’t begin after our physical death, but begins here and now stretching into eternity for the glory of God. There is nothing we can add to God’s free, radical, and awesome gift of unconditional and limitless love and grace offered through and in Jesus’ saving death on the cross.

Billy Graham: The truth of Easter has more than historical implications. Its truth in all its wonder dawns is capable of transforming our individual lives and our society. On Easter Sunday, thousands of people go to church to hear sermons on the Resurrection; but how many actually believe that Christ is alive? What a difference it would make if they did! What a transformation would take place in our homes! What a difference there would be in our nation’s deteriorating morals! What an increase of purpose and power in our lives, if we caught the wonder of the biblical declaration that Christ is alive today!

The greatest news that has ever flashed from heaven to earth is that Christ the Lord is risen. The angel at the tomb delivered the most important message ever to fall on the ears of mankind: “He is not here: for he is risen.” The power of those words changed the course of history, brought hope to a hopeless world, and gave believers a purpose and a power that they had never known before.

Jesus lives and calls us to be His hands and feet in a broken and perishing world. Everything we know and cherish rests on the utter, subversive, and awesome truth that Jesus lives! Our entire civilization—universities, hospitals, democracy began on the first Easter. Our world would be transformed if more and more of us would shape our lives from Jesus lives. Our world increasingly smell like Jesus. I would much rather stay drunk on God’s love and grace, but I cannot, we cannot do this anymore. We need to get busy being the hands and feet of Christ, not for anything we could ever add to Jesus’ gospel, but all for the glory of God.

Billy Graham: There is hope in the Easter message today. There is hope for all in Christ today. There is hope beyond the grave, because the same power that raised Christ from the dead will also raise those who confess Him. Death becomes only a veil, only a river to cross. On the other side is heaven, home and Christ. Easter, with its message of Resurrection power, brings you face to face with the living Christ.

Coming face to face with Christ forces us to choose. Will we accept Christ into our hearts and lives or will we shrug our shoulders and go on alone. I have made the decision. Jesus is my all; I consider everything a loss compared to the exceeding awesomeness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, my Savior for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and Christ alone. (Philippians 3:8) I am shaping my life by that statement I just made, I am not compeletely there yet, but I am closer now more than ever.

You have the same decision to make. Will you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Well, Will you?

N.T. Wright: Without the resurrection of Jesus, in fact, there would have been no story to tell. Lots of first-century Jews spoke of God’s coming kingdom. Thousands of them were crucified by the Romans for trying to make it happen. None of those movements survived. The only explanation for the continuation, and powerful spread, of Jesus’ movement was that he was raised from the dead. It’s time to get faith into focus. “Can there be any day but this?” asked George Herbert. No. This is the great day, the day when, in Jesus, God became king.

Know that even if you are still going through your own Good Friday or if you are languishing in a personal Holy Saturday that He has risen! Nothing will ever be the same again! Jesus died the death of a criminal so that you and I may have Eternal Life to the full. Jesus rose again so that we may know that we have the hope that joy, light, and love will shape our life now and forever!

I hope you have a happy Easter and that God blesses you in knowing more and more what it means to say Jesus lives!

Amen.

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