Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hope Rings Crystal Clear from the Empty Tomb

There is something we all need more than the breath of life that fills our lungs.

Even today, as war ravages nations and families, and bombs tear apart lands and lives, as some sit in comfortable safety and others flee from war-scarred countries, as disease disfigures and disables; there is a glorious message of hope, but it is not found in the absence of battles.

It is not a popular message, it is not a political message, it is not a prosperity message, but it has the power to change. It is a message of hope that rings crystal clear from the empty tomb that Christ is risen and reigns.

We are to proclaim this message of hope to those who are perishing in war and to those who are lost in their safety and everyone caught in between.

And we have good work to do. It will wear us right out, leave us weary to the bone. It will even cost us our lives. It is fitting that we should die, that there be a new and beautiful harvest.

There’s this paradox that unless we are made alive, we will be forever dead in our sins, and unless we die, we will not be made alive.

There is nothing we could gain in this world, and there is nothing that we could lose in this world that will compare to the hope of what we have for eternity.

Because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, we have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading”.

Death has lost its sting. Sin has lost its power. Death was swallowed up in victory on the cross of Christ. The grave could not hold him because Christ had taken out the sting of death on the cross.

I can tell you how much I need this hope as I fight through all my battles. It is the glorious message this world needs—the same message it needed on the third day after Jesus died.

Early, on the first day of the week, women went to his tomb and found the large stone, which had been placed at the entrance of the tomb, rolled away. They entered, but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They were perplexed and did not know what to do. They had prepared spices and had come to anoint his body. But, they could not find his body.

Suddenly, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. They said to the women: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

At that, the women remembered that Jesus had said those words. They fled from the tomb with fear and yet were filled with great joy and ran to tell his disciples the news. But, the women’s words sounded like nonsense and silly talk to them and they didn’t believe them.

Jesus had been raised from the dead. The tomb was empty. Only the linen cloths that he had been wrapped in were still lying there.

Jesus had taught many times during his ministry that he would die and on the third day be raised again. Now it has happened, and they still did not understand that He must rise from the dead.

All of Jesus’s life was a prelude to his death, His cross was the victorious climax and His resurrection was the resounding “yes” to the perfect plan of God.

For the forty days following his resurrection, Jesus presented Himself to His disciples and apostles to prove He was alive. He opened their eyes in understanding and many believed.

To Thomas he said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

If Christ was not raised then Christians are the biggest fools of all. For we have believed a message of foolishness. Instead of a “hall of faith”, it has been said, we would end up with a “hall of fools”.

You can find many proofs of the resurrection of Jesus from history. But, it requires faith to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.

The resurrection was essential to confirm that the work Christ accomplished on the cross satisfied God, as the incarnation was essential to make it possible.

The resurrection:

proclaims with power that Jesus is the Son of God 
publicly declares that his substitutionary sacrifice for sins satisfied the wrath of God.
provides forgiven sinners with a living hope
produces in us life-giving power
proves there is victory over death

In laying out the truth that the gospel includes the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul zooms in on practical application. He exhorts the believers in Corinth to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

As we abide in Christ, we will bear this fruit in our lives as well. Since Christ has been raised, we are to be steadfast. We are to be ‘well-seated’, firm in the faith of the gospel. The gospel of Christ that we have received and believed, we hold on to it, study it, preach it to ourselves, it is our firm foundation—rest on it. There is much opinion today and little conviction. Be fixed firmly in your own conviction.

We are to be immovable — without movement or change of status. Because of the hope we have we will be firmly persistent and not swayed by others from without. Whatever trials may come upon us, though we will be tested and tried by fire we are to stand firm. We will not be shaken when we stand secure on the foundation of our faith--Jesus Christ.

Because of the living hope of the resurrection, we are to be always going above and beyond, engaged in promoting the glory of God to further the gospel. Always abounding, increasing in excellence in our work for the Lord. This labour involves weariness, toil and deep fatigue, but it will not be in vain or worthless.

To many it sounds like utter nonsense, as the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is strange and extraordinary, but we should, like the women, with fear and filled with great joy, proclaim what we have heard: That Jesus Christ has died for our sins, was buried and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

The steadfast love of God transforms lives and the surpassing greatness of his power raises the dead unto newness of life.

The empty grave proves the living Christ is the bright hope this world needs today.

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