An Empty Tomb and a Victorious Future…
Abraham Lincoln’s casket was opened in 1901 because it was feared that his body was not there. But Jesus Christ’s tomb was opened to prove that He is not there.
On one occasion Michelangelo, the great artist, turned on his fellow artists in a spirit of indignation. He said: “Why do you keep filling gallery after gallery with endless pictures on the one theme of Christ in weakness, Christ on the Cross, and most of all, Christ hanging dead? Why do you concentrate on the passing episode as if it were the last work, as if the curtain dropped on Him with disaster and defeat? That dreadful scene lasted…a few hours. But to the unending eternity, Christ is alive; the stone has been rolled away and He rules and reigns and triumphs!”
The great scientist Sir Michael Faraday was dying, some journalists questioned him about his speculations for a life after death. “Speculations!” he said, “I know nothing about speculations. I’m resting on certainties. I know that my Redeemer lives, and because He lives, I shall live also.”
Today, we gather to celebrate the greatest event in human history and all the universe, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! No other event, and no other result even come close. Because Jesus conquered death in His resurrection (that is the event), the Bible says that we have the certainties of life beyond the grave (that is the result). Because He lives, we live! And because He lives, the fear of death loses its intimidation.
That is particularly real to me this week. Just a few days ago, one of my dearest friends and colleagues who pastored in Tuscaloosa passed away after suddenly contracting a throat infection that quickly went septic. Within a couple of days, he was gone. It was tough, I was stunned. We grew up together, we were called into the ministry together, we hung out together as teenagers, and when we did not have dates, which was often, we would sit around praying, reading and discussing the scriptures, talking about what God was doing in our lives, and we laughed a lot. We have remained close, especially over the past decade. I’ll miss his friendship greatly, but I know that I’ll see him again before the throne of God and it’s all because of today… Easter!
You see, Easter turned the darkness of the grave into the light of heaven. That is what Paul was talking about when he wrote these words about the resurrection… “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54–57)
But this promise is only true for those who have trusted their souls to Christ. If you have never done that, you can do so today. I’ll share just how it can happen for you at the end of my message. In the meantime, know that I am so glad you are here today to worship our risen Savior. I trust you will sense His presence and experience His love. We have a motto here at Ridgecrest, “God is always trying to take you someplace new.” Don’t miss what He wants to do in you. And remember, I love being your Pastor!
P.S. No PM services this evening… enjoy the afternoon with loved ones.
For God’s Glory Alone,