What does the empty tomb mean to you?

Muhammad’s body lies buried in the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Confucius lies buried in a cemetery in his home town Qufu, China.  Budda’s remains were cremated and sent to several places as relics.  One place holds the “right tooth relic” of Buddha and is called the Temple of the Tooth or Dalada Maligawa located in Sri Lanka.  The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, lies buried at the Gurdwara Kartarpur in Punjab, Pakistan.  The founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.  Joseph Smith Jr., founder of Mormonism, is buried in Nauvoo, Illinios.  Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross and his body laid in a tomb.  But… he is unlike any of the previous leaders mentioned.  He rose from the grave and conquered death.  What religious leader or founder of a religion can claim to have done that? 

This Easter we were challenged by a doctor on our mission station to refocus on what we are actually celebrating.  We live during a time that Easter has been hijacked by bunnies, eggs, and chocolate.  Would Easter be the same for you without all of the candy and decorations that we have attributed to the event that is the most significant for mankind? 

Jesus’ death and resurrection was a completely new event for mankind.  He told his disciples that “in a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me” – John 16:16.  The disciples were confused.  Just what is he talking about?  The disciples had seen Jesus bring people back from being dead but they could not understand that Jesus was preparing them for when he had to die.  Jesus also talks about a time that they “will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.  You will grieve but your grief will turn to joy” – John 16:20.  Jesus knew what he had to be done and he knew that the disciples had no clue as to what was going to happen. 

There are many hypotheses that people use to dismiss the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to people several times after his death.  All of those hypotheses are mans’ way of trying to convince themselves that it really could not happen by explaining away something that we may not understand.  What, then, is the point of life?  If we are not living for Christ then what are we living for?  The empty promises of leaders whose mortal bodies still remain here on earth?  We are convinced that what we are doing is not in vain. 

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised , then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised , your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.             – 1 Corinthians 15: 12-17

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.                                                                  – 1 Corinthians 15:20-21

The gift of Jesus’ death and resurrection is not fully realized when we do not acknowledge that Christ died for our sin and rose again in order to pave the way for us to be saved.  We need to accept that we are sinners and that he died for our sins so that we may rise with him.  Otherwise we are condenmed to hell.

We were reminded of the Fed Ex Superbowl commercial that was the “conclusion” to the movie “Cast away”.  I have included the YouTube URL in this post in case you have not seen it.  If you remember, Tom Hanks has this package that he has kept for the whole five years that he is cast away on an island.  The commercial reveals what was actually in the package – a satellite phone, a GPS unit, a water purifier, a fishing rod, and seeds.  The package that he had protected and not opened the entire time he was on the island actually contained items that could have helped him.  It was within his grasp and yet he did not open it.  Fed Ex Castaway commerical

What do we do with the package that Christ offers us?  It is within our grasp.  Instead of a satellite phone he offers an open communication with him that does not run out of time and can be used anywhere on the planet.  Instead of a GPS unit he offers the Holy Spirit to help guide us and tell us where we are.  Instead of a water purifier and seeds he provides living water and bread of life that will give us the necessary nurishment for healthy relationships with others.  Instead of a fishing rod we are called to be fishers of men who desparately need to hear the good news of salvation provided only through Christ who died for our sins.

What does the empty tomb mean to you?  We encourage you to take time to reflect on this, see what God has done for you, and open the package that he freely offers you. 

“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  – John 11:25-26  

 

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