Diana and I were recently in Israel with many of our friends and ministry partners, and guess what? The tomb is still empty! It is the only place on planet earth that people travel from around the globe to see absolutely nothing.
Jesus Christ rose from the dead just as He said.
The best news the world ever received came out of a cemetery.
He lives! Jesus is alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father, interceding on behalf of you and me!
Very close to Jesus’ tomb is Golgotha, the site of His crucifixion. It’s a very small, unassuming hill where the world was forever changed, where eternity was made available to all mankind. But like any gift, you must accept it in order for it to really be a blessing to you. Jesus is offering all of us eternal life, but you have to believe and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior in order to experience the joy of His gift... Eternity with Him.
Have you invited Jesus into your heart? If you have, then you need to ask yourself... Have you left Him behind as you have become more and more adapted to the chaos of this world, trying to go along and get along with the masses?
It’s an easy thing to do. Jesus told His disciples to deny themselves, to leave everything behind and pick up their cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). Leaving things behind does not often sit well with our human nature; we cannot see the end from the beginning like God can. We cannot see the great things He has in store for us; we are simply told to trust and obey. He has things in store for us that are far greater than our wildest imagination.
Just days before His crucifixion, Jesus of Nazareth was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, just outside the eastern walls of Jerusalem. He had just eaten the Passover meal with His disciples. Judas left to betray Him. Jesus knelt in the garden to pray, but His disciples fell fast asleep.
He then went to His sleeping disciples and said, “Could you not watch with Me one hour (Matthew 26:40)?” It was true that His disciples were sleeping in history’s most significant hour. And for many believers it’s still true today. The church is sleeping in America’s most dangerous hour, in an hour of great uncertainty around the world.
His destiny was the Cross.
He was the Lamb of God,
Slain from the foundations of the earth.
Let’s go back to the garden... Suddenly, through the olive trees, the flaming torches of 500 Roman soldiers can be seen. They are coming into the garden, surrounding Jesus. These men are trained killers who are heavily armed. Then something interesting happened.
The lead Centurion asked, “We seek Jesus of Nazareth.” And Jesus replied, “I am He.” At this declaration, they fell to the ground like dead men (John 18:1- 11). Why did this happen? What is the significance of this event? At that moment Jesus and His disciples could have fled, Jesus certainly could have called down an army of angels and destroyed this small army. But Jesus knew His destiny was the Cross. He was the Lamb of God, slain from the foundations of the earth. He knew that it required His sacrifice so that all of us could live forever with Him in Heaven.
This event was significant because it shows that Jesus freely and willingly gave Himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
In John 10, verse 18 Jesus said, “No man takes My life. I give it willingly.” Jesus was and is always in control, with great power and might. Here He is, under arrest, and the soldiers are face down on the ground in the garden...powerless before the Carpenter. Then later when Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd that had gathered, “I find no fault with this Man.” The trial should have ended there by Roman law but the Pharisees were not after justice, they were out to destroy Jesus, to kill Him.
He was then taken to Herod. He was slapped, whipped and spit upon. He was mocked and a crown of thorns was thrust upon His head. “Hail King of the Jews” was chanted by the soldiers as they walked Him down the Via Dolorosa all the way to Golgotha (Mark 15:17-19).
Jesus was taken back to Pilate a second time and He was brutally beaten with a Roman cat of nine tails with 39 stripes. It was against the law to receive more than 39 stripes as the leather strips had bone and metal woven into them, and a higher number of stripes was considered a lethal dose.
Take just a few moments to picture this in your mind. Close your eyes and picture the scene as the whip sails through the air, slashing the back of a sinless Savior. Blood is flowing from His back and His brow. He did all of this so that by His stripes we could be healed. He continued to stumble down the streets of Jerusalem, dragging the Cross to its final destination so that you and I could live a life of abundance both here on this earth and in heaven with Him for all eternity.
Listen to the Cross being dragged through the cobblestone streets as the weight becomes unbearable and the sound of weeping fills the air. That afternoon, God the Father allowed His only Son to be executed for the sins of the world.
He was nailed to that Cross.
Drops of crimson blood fell from His brow.
In agony, He cried out... “it is finished.”
What is finished? Death, hell, and the grave is finished. This was the day that the promise of redemption became a reality. This was the day that forgiveness and mercy came with eternal life.
The sun refused to shine, as God hid His face in sorrow, because His only Son had now become the sin of the world. The sacrifice for all humanity was dying as Mary, the mother of Jesus, watered the blood-soaked dirt under the Cross with her tears.
Before the sun went down, His followers took the body down from the Cross, wrapped it in burial clothes with 100 pounds of spices and laid Him to rest in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. For three days Jesus laid in that tomb, dead to the gloating world around Him. It looked like hell had won the war.
Then came the third day...the dawn of hope. The angels came and rolled the stone away. There was a blinding flash of light and the earth began to quake. The Roman soldiers fell to the ground like dead men. And on this third day, out of the darkness of this borrowed tomb walked our resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. At that moment the Lamb of God, that once was our sacrifice, became the Lion of Judah!
Angels rolled away the stone
Not to let Jesus out...
But to LET US IN!
What does the resurrection mean for you and me? It means that every claim that Jesus Christ made about Himself and
His kingdom is absolutely true. Eternal life is available to ALL who believe (John 11:26).
The Easter message is one of absolute redemption for every man, woman, boy, and girl. It is a message of total victory! The Cross could not contain Him. The grave could not conquer Him. Satan could not defeat Him. Jesus is the triumphant King of kings and Lord of lords... victorious over death, hell, and the grave. And that is worth celebrating!
He is Risen.