Sunday – A week ago the citizens of the area around Jerusalem celebrated their Messiah riding into Jerusalem to challenge Roman rule, a few days later they chanted for his blood before watching him die an incredibly painful death on the cross. When the ladies arrive to embalm the body they are amazed to find the tomb standing open and the Roman guard assigned were no-where to be seen. Ducking inside he confirms their suspicions, the body is gone, possibly stolen. Two angels appear and ask why the ladies are looking for the living amongst the dead. Can it be, could their Jesus, their teacher really have performed the impossible and risen again?
The ladies returned to the 11 remaining disciples and told them what they heard from the angels, but they didn’t understand, the women must be delirious and speaking nonsense. Peter even having run to the tomb, seeing the linen still wonders away wondering what had happened – because the women couldn’t be telling the truth could they?
I have to confess that I have never understood the establishment churches and the iconography of the crucifixion of Jesus. Everywhere you look there are reminders that Jesus died on the cross, this is important, it accomplished the sacrifice necessary for it to be possible to be right with God. Yes it is definitely a most important thing! If Jesus died and that was the end of the story I am sure that we wouldn’t be celebrating his death today.
When Jesus was in the middle of his ministry we read about a lame man who was lowered through the roof of a house in front of Jesus. Seeing the man, and knowing the hearts of the people around Him, Jesus tells the man His sins are forgiven. He then asks the assembled crowd whether it is easier to say the mans sins are forgiven, or to say to the man get up and walk. To prove he had the authority to forgive sin he then told the man to get up and walk. The man did…point proved!
In the same way Jesus could claim He was the Son of God all he liked, He could say that he was going to die for the forgiveness of our sins, he could promise the thief on the cross that he would be in paradise that same day. All these would be great claims, but they had to be backed up with a proof. Jesus rising from the dead is the difference between a good man with some interesting teaching and being who He claimed to be – The Son of God.
Of course at the time people asked questions. Did Jesus really die, did he rise again? If you have never thought this through, look at the evidence in the Bible, even other recorded history. Yes Jesus died, they pierced his side and blood and water flowed out. This was evidence of death. He rose again. From inside a closed tomb a dead man rolled a massive stone away and defeated a Roman guard? It could only be a miracle. This is a truth that we are asked to live for, and one that many have been willing to die for. Most of the disciples were martyred and none of them, even at the opportunity to save their life, would say anything other than that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to hundreds of witnesses.
You have an opportunity today to look at this again. To see if there is truth in this story – or if this is a myth and a nice story for the kids. 2000+ years later people still witness to the power of Jesus to forgive their sins and to give them new life, new purpose and a relationship with God through Jesus death and resurrection.
It cost Jesus His life to give us an opportunity to know God and make us right with Him. You have been offered a gift of salvation today. Like any present you can accept it and open it or you can turn it away.
For me I prefer the empty cross. Jesus is not there, weak, dying in shame – no, He rose to victory showing almighty power over death and sin. He’s not in the grave, He’s alive and sitting in the place of power awaiting the day when He will come to collect those who are faithful to Him! Hallelujah!
“But God’s free gift is not like Adam’s sin. Many people died because of the sin of that one man. But the grace from God was much greater; many people received God’s gift of life by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. After Adam sinned once, he was judged guilty. But the gift of God is different. God’s free gift came after many sins, and it makes people right with God.” Romans 5:15-16
For more thoughts like this then visit One Man In The Middle