Monday, October 13, 2008

The Empty Tomb...

An attack of allergies/asthma/cold kept me home from church yesterday. As I was praying, something turned my thoughts to the empty tomb. I realized there are so many reasons to praise God for what Jesus accomplished in the resurrection. Then, I reflected how often the Christians in Acts and the letters referred to the resurrection. They talked about it all the time. I decided I should think and talk more about it, as well.

Here are some reasons for praising God for the resurrection that I came up with. Maybe, you have some suggestions you want to share, as well.

1) The empty tomb turned what looked in the moment like the greatest defeat in history -- the cross -- into the greatest triumph. People in Jesus' day expected a triumphant Messiah who would restore earthly glory to the physical nation of Israel. When He took the way of the cross instead of becoming an earthly king, his enemies gloated (Matthew 27:39-44) and even those closest to Him were stumped (Matthew 17:21-24). When he rose from the dead, his followers finally understood. It was in going to the cross that Christ defeated the powers of sin and death and opened the door of salvation for all people. What does that teach us? In our darkest moments, look for God. He can do the most amazing things.
2) The empty tomb teaches us how to live. We find it hard to take up even the smallest of our crosses and follow Jesus -- or, at least I do. What, Lord? Wait on you in this situation when I want to take some kind of action -- RIGHT NOW! Deny myself for my health's sake, when I have convinced myself that I deserve that second piece of German chocolate cake? Forgive and love that person, who has verbally attacking my husband or my children? Be humble? Don't try to argue the other person into seeing things my way? Share my faith with that intimidating person? Trust you with all my heart when the situation looks so dire? To our natural self, the way of the cross hardly ever looks like the logical choice. Yet, Jesus proved by his resurrection that the way of the cross is always right. If we take up our crosses daily and follow Jesus, God will raise us up. Luke 9:23-26. And, the way of the cross is the only way we can hope to make a lasting difference in this world.
3) The empty tomb helps us understand that God has life within Himself. Death could not keep Jesus in the grave. We are dependent on God and the blessings He gives for physical and spiritual life. God does not depend on anything outside of Himself for life. He is the author of life, and He gives life.
4) The empty tomb is proof that Jesus defeated our greatest enemy and our greatest fear -- death. For the Christian, death holds no terror, but the sure hope of living eternally with the Lord. I Corinthians Chapter Fifteen
5) The empty tomb means we are no longer slaves to the penalty of sin or to the power of sin, either. We may still battle sin, but we are no longer under its complete control. Through God's power, we can live a resurrected life. "How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. Now, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." See also II Peter 2-11.
6) The cross and resurrection are the power that we come in contact with through baptism. "In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead." Col. 2:11-12, See also I Peter 3:21-22. Isn't that amazing that God allows us to participate in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ? Otherwise, we'd just be getting wet.
7) The empty tomb means that our Lord is still with us! Can you imagine the joy that Mary Magdalene must have felt when Jesus said to her, "Mary!" and she realized it was her crucified Lord standing there -- alive! Or, can you think what amazement and happiness the other disciples felt when Jesus appeared to them? John 20:10-31. We can know this joy, too! Christ is in heaven interceding for us; He walks among the churches; God has sent the Holy Spirit to be with us! Not even death -- Jesus' or ours -- can separate us from God's love! Jesus says, "I was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore." From Rev. 1:18.
8) The empty tomb means that our loved ones who have died in the Lord are not separated from us forever. They will be raised. "Jesus said to her, "Your brother shall rise again. Martha said to Him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:23-25
9) People have been trying to discredit the resurrection for 2,000 years. Yet, no one has ever successfully been able to do so.
10) The empty tomb means that our pasts don't define us. Like Paul says, we leave what is behind and press on toward what is ahead. We are new creations in Christ. Every day is a new day in Christ.


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