On this Resurrection weekend, we pause and reflect on the greatest event in human history, the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian Faith has always rested on the simple truth of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Simply put, without an empty tomb we have an empty faith. Without an empty tomb the Christian Faith collapses and is a fraud. The Bible is very clear on this subject according to I Corinthians 15:12-26. Christianity is the ONLY faith that builds everything on a single event... the Empty Tomb. Other faiths and religious systems have complex systems of belief and doctrine that are hard to understand, even for their own followers. On the other hand, the Lord has made the Christian Faith so simple that even a young child can understand it. Christ is raised from the dead!
For many people today, the Resurrection of our Lord is something they believe on some level, but it doesn't seem to go much deeper. It becomes an "article of faith" and not personal experience. Many people will attend Easter services, wear a new hat, have a special dinner with family, but seemingly vanish the rest of the year. Our Nation is filled with a majority of people who profess they are Christians and yet we are in the midst of being called "post Christian." How does something like that happen and what does that say about how people really see the Lord and/or the Faith? Can someone really believe in the Empty Tomb and not have that event transform their lives?
You see, if Christ was raised from the dead and alive today that is all that really matters in life. That must be true, because without an empty tomb life is really pretty meaningless; life ends at the grave. Without an empty tomb, we just do a bunch of stuff and die. Without the Resurrection of our humanity in Christ, there really is no clear view of an afterlife that anyone can really relate to or understand. Without an empty tomb our daily lives have no more significance than what happens to an animal that dies in the forest. Our funerals just cost more.
The Resurrection Story will never grip us until we have personally looked into it ourselves. We must get drawn into the story and discover the Empty Tomb for ourselves. We must join the Apostles and their journey from unbelief and uncertainty to faith and assurance. We can't end up with second-hand faith. That never seems to work. That is what happened to Doubting Thomas, who ended up with no real faith until he personally discovered and met our Risen Lord in John 20:24-29.
So, the antidote to this problem is simply to begin to read and study the Gospel accounts about the Resurrection and do some personal investigation to find and encounter our Risen Lord afresh...or perhaps for the first time. Is the Biblical story really true? What did the disciples see when they entered the empty tomb or met our Risen Lord? What does the Bible say about the Resurrection? How is Jesus alive in us? Did the Lord want us to be confused? If Jesus is alive, what does that mean for our lives today? These are but a few of the questions we must ask ourselves in order to be fully engaged in the Resurrection Story.
In the Resurrection account from John's Gospel we hear the story of the personal investigation of the disciples themselves:
"Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed." John 20:8
The Bible tells us that the Apostle John, referred to as the "other disciple" went into the tomb, he saw and believed. Whatever John saw totally changed him and gave him an answer to all his questions about what happened to Jesus. John saw something the Lord wanted him to see that left no doubt that Jesus was raised. John's discovery is at the heart of what the Lord planned for the whole world to discover about the Resurrection then and now.
It is very clear that the thing that John saw was the witness left by the Lord Himself after He rose that was designed to bring about true faith. Our Lord had left His head scarf neatly folded up and set aside by itself, next to a burial garment that was empty. You see, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had used 75 pound of myrrh and aloes on our Lord's body to prepare it for the grave (John 19:39-40). When you mix those items together and place them on strips of linen you create a sticky solution that binds the linen strips together to make a case like shell that covers the body like a cocoon. When our Lord rose, He just passed through that case and left the hollow shell behind. The Lord moved His head scarf aside and folded it to allow everyone to see that His body was gone. The Apostle John saw this incredible sight and instantly believed that Jesus was raised. No other conclusion was possible then or now.
As we come to Resurrection services on April 16, we are being called by the Lord to go into the Empty Tomb and see for ourselves. No second-hand experience will do. We need to see that we are in the story. We are being called to "check it out," just like the Lord's disciples were on Resurrection morning. Our faith and personal discovery of what happened in that Tomb has to be the same as the Apostles. After all, there are NO second-class citizens in God's Kingdom when it comes to the real meaning of the Resurrection for our lives. Christ is either raised for them and us or He is not. That is the true test and discovery needed for every believer of every generation.
May this be our BEST Resurrection Day ever in the church we attend......or perhaps go to for the first time. May the Good News of the Empty Tomb be joyously proclaimed to the world until the Day when our bodies become like His and we join our Lord forever more. Christ is truly Risen, He is Risen Indeed!!!