Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Tomb Is Empty!



Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Imagine that your dearest friend has passed from this life under questionable circumstances. You and other close friends watched his life ebb away, and another acquaintance offers a tomb for his burial. You managed to get through that sad day, even witnessing the entombment.

A few days later you go to the cemetery to say a few prayers and leave flowers on the new grave. You find that the grave has been dug up, the casket lays open on its side, and your beloved friend’s body is missing!

If you can imagine the emotional roller-coaster of these few days, this is the horror that Mary Magdalene faced on that first day of a new week so long ago. Grave robbers! Vandals! Thieves! And you know that your friend died with nothing in this life, no estate, no riches, and no progeny. There was nothing to steal from the grave! Panic set in as Mary ran to tell whosoever of the Apostles might be available to help her bear this new assault.

There was, however, one thing that your friend did take with him to the grave: Jesus took with Him the prospect of eternal life. He had spoken of it many times to multitudes of people in dozens of settings: in cities, in the countryside, on mountains, and along the seashore, Jesus taught of a righteousness of faith, and a peace that surpassed all understanding.

Through His sacrificial death, and resurrection, our Beloved Friend accomplished two seemingly impossible tasks. His sacrifice on the cross paid the penalty for all sin, for all time. No wonder His death was so gruesomely painful, for we are all sinners. (And by today’s count, there are nearly 8 billion sinners on the planet, as well as all those that have gone before us!) Our sin is now paid for, for once and for all.

And then as we celebrate this Resurrection Day, we recall the other thing that He accomplished for us: new-life-after-death. This new life is an eternal one and it’s available to any and all. Sins forgiven, and Eternal Life, all accomplished over a weekend. This is the spirit of Passover that the Jews have given to us, and one Jew in particular, of the Tribe of Judah, heir of King David, whose Throne is an everlasting one!
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” - John 3:16

Today's Audio Message:
John 20:1-31 - Easter Sunday - "The Tomb Is Empty!"

Summary/Notes:

The tomb was empty, Christ had risen from the dead! He is alive! The implications are profound. Without the resurrection, there is no salvation, no forgiveness, no hope and no heaven. Just when Satan thought he had beaten Jesus, Jesus rose up in victory and proved otherwise. The kind of eternal life Jesus has is now available to us; this isn’t any ordinary, dreary existence to which most people are accustomed, but a joyful, celebratory life.

The glorious truth that makes the gospel of Jesus Christ such good news is “that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4). In the words of the angel at the empty tomb: “He has risen, just as He said” (Matthew 28:6).

Christ’s resurrection is the central point around which all biblical truth revolves. It represents the culmination and triumph of every righteous expectation that preceded it, starting with Job 19:25–27. It is the basis for the apostles’ unshakable faith and the pivotal point in the message they proclaimed. It is the living guarantee of every divine promise from the beginning to the end of Scripture. Every other miracle described in Scripture pales in significance by comparison.

Although all four gospels bear witness that Christ had repeatedly foretold His own resurrection (Matthew 20:19; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; John 2:19–21; 10:18), the disciples were not predisposed to believe it. They were clearly surprised—even inclined to skepticism—when they found the empty grave. Thomas was emphatic: 
“Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25). Jesus allowed Thomas to do much more than "touch" Him, a privilege He denied Mary. Jesus allowed him to be convinced by sound evidence. 

Throughout the eight-day interim, Jesus made multiple appearances, often in the presence of multiple eyewitnesses.  They were so firmly convinced of the truth of the resurrection that no argument, no threat, no form of torture could silence them. All of them ultimately gave their lives rather than deny the resurrection. After all, they had seen Him, touched Him, eaten with Him, and fellowshipped with Him after the resurrection. That explains the amazing boldness and determination with which they carried the gospel to the nations. “We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). 

Today as we look at the John’s gospel in chapter 20, we will read again this amazing account of the resurrection story. We will take a closer look at those closest to Him, their fears, their doubts and their unbelief. We will once again be amazed at God’s redemptive plan for mankind, including the finest details from the beginning, through the bloodline, and the prophets from old. The overwhelming truth of God’s Word, and all of God promises are sure and everlasting! The scriptures declare Jesus Christ, the Messiah is the Risen King and Lord of All.

Pastor Bob reminds us that if you ever find yourself in doubt about your faith, pray. Just like Christ appeared to these disappointed, fearful and skeptical disciples, Christ will come to you. Thomas believed because he saw with his own eyes, in fact they all did, but Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" - John 20:29.

We believe unto eternal salvation. We believe in the one we haven’t seen. Why do we believe? Because we believe in the record of Scripture. We have a risen Christ whom we experience in our daily lives, who has transformed us and given us a new life, a new nature. We have been called to a commission, empowered by the Holy Spirit to confront the world with the gospel of salvation.

John 3:16 says, 
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This mornings scripture reading is from Psalm 16. Not only does this Psalm speak of the coming Messiah, and clearly a promise of the resurrection, but it talks about our future life in heaven. If you’re wondering what heaven will be like, scripture tells us "In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Everything that now makes us groan will finally be done away with, and we will find ourselves in the very presence of God, where the purest and truest kind of pleasure and joy is possible for all eternity.

God has given us the truth in His Word. Jesus rose from the dead and has been given a name above every name.   Those who put their f
aith and trust in Him have an unimaginable glorious and joyous future!




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