In the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin is at school, and his teacher is attempting to teach the class. She begins, “ If there are no questions, we will move on to the next chapter.
I have a question.
Certainly Calvin, what is it?
What’s the point of human existence?
I meant any questions about the subject at hand.
Oh, said Calvin frankly, I’d like to have the issue resolved before I expend any more energy on this.” (From Calvin and Hobbes, March 3, 92.)
While I get a laugh out of Calvin’s motive a part of me can also appreciate his question. Deep down, we long to settle the question: “What’s the point of our human existence?” It is the ultimate questions that give meaning to each moment of life.
THAT IS WHAT I FIND SO WONDERFUL ABOUT EASTER…IT IS A CELEBRATION OF GOD’S ULTIMATE ANSWER TO OUR LIFE. Not that God hasn’t revealed himself throughout human existence…certainly we see God’s power in creation; a creation that can fill our souls with wonder and awe…and a sense that there is a personal and perpetuating power to whom we belong. Certainly we see in the entire life and ministry of Christ, God’s power and love to come close, to heal and set free…But perhaps nowhere is God’s ultimate word of response more settled and summed up than at the empty tomb we celebrate this morning.
…And in fact tombs have often been known to tell us a lot about a person. Tomb stones themselves are often said to be a summation of one’s life.
Perhaps the greatest tomb known to human kind was that discovered in our lifetime… King Tuts tomb discovered in Egypt. He ruled around 1344 BC...at the age of 9 (can you imagine your 10 yr old ruling?) About 8-9 yrs squabble…mummy shows wound to back of hand. We also learn of his values…Wealth.. It took 7 weeks to get the treasures out! (7 model boats…chairs…thrones…chests all laden with gold…solid gold masks...gold shrines.)
Consider by contrast the simple tomb of Jesus that changed the world.
THROUGH AN EMPTY TOMB, GOD TELLS ALL…
First, He tells us:
1. HIS POWER IS ULTIMATE
The pyramids of Egypt are famous because they contained the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptian Kings. Westminster Abbey in London is revered, because in it rests the bodies of English nobles and notables. Mohammed’s tomb is noted for the stone coffin and the bones it contains. Arlington cemetery in Washington, D.C. is revered for it is the honored resting place of many outstanding Americans. But the Garden Tomb of Jesus is famous because it is empty.
There is the ultimate demonstration of God’s power in Christ. It was the final fulfillment of countless prophesies regarding the coming of the Messiah, God’s very own; including not only how he’d been born but how he would die…be buried…his grave…and his resurrection.
One of which we read from Isaiah as we began our celebration this morning…1,000 years before Christ; 600 years before the crucifixion was developed as a means of execution.
It was the definitive demonstration of power over all of life. It transformed fearful lives, infusing them with courage and hope…from which to changed the world. Yet some hearts were threatened, even as Jesus had predicted, “If they did not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
Yet the evidence still stands of an empty tomb and a risen Savior.
Some suggest JESUS WASN’T REALLY DEAD…
Even though the evidence is that…
· He was beaten until unable to stand…then nailed to a cross….pierced through…from which came water and blood.
· Four experts sign death certificate.
· Prepared for burial with 100 lbs of spices and garments…in mixed gummy wrap.
· Stone mat “large” …1 ½ -2 tons, rolled down a channel, fourth document says it took 20 men to remove such a stone.
· Extra Guards placed at tomb…imprinted with Roman seal.
> It could not have been a recovering Jesus who came completely and fully alive to the disciples and others but a resurrected Jesus.
Others have suggested the DISCIPLES STOLE JESUS FROM THE GRAVE
One would have to explain how…fearful disciples…who fled so they wouldn’t even be associated with him by the Roman authorities…overtook the patrol of guards…moved the stone…demonstrated his interaction in public with others, and were transformed into relentless courage…in which all but one were martyred for the risen Lord…who they created.
But this was not a graveyard but one grave in a garden. Mary and the women would have to be wrong. Peter and John…Joseph, the new owner of the tomb would all have to have been wrong. And the Roman guards could simply have denied… and said, “Here’s the real tomb and the body!”
The truth is Peter could stand forty days later and proclaim undisputed…about the reality of the resurrection. The apostle Paul could speak of Jesus appearance to over 500…most of whom were still alive as he went about! If each only testified for six minutes you would have fifty hours of first hand eye witnesses testimony!
Josh McDowell, a man who initially set out to…was asked, “Prof., why can’t you refute Christianity?” “For the simple reason,” he said, “the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” After more than seven hundred hours of studying and investigating the evidence it only led him to God.
Professor. Thomas Arnold, for fourteen years the headmaster of Rugby, author of the three-volume History of Rome, and holder of the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts.
This great scholar said,
“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times,
and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” (McDowell, A Ready Defense, citing 3/324)
Dr. Frank Morrison, a lawyer who had been brought up in a rationalistic environment, had come to the opinion that the resurrection was nothing but a fairy-tale happy ending which spoiled the matchless story of Jesus. He felt that he owed it to himself, and to others, to write a book that would present the truth about Jesus and dispel the myth of the resurrection.
Upon studying the facts, however, he, too, came to a different conclusion. The sheer weight of the evidence compelled him to conclude that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. Morrison wrote his book—but not the one he had planned. It is titled, Who Moved the Stone? The first chapter, very significantly, is called, “The Book That Refused to Be Written.”
The literary scholar, C. S. Lewis, former professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge University, when writing about his conversion to Christianity, indicated that he had believed Christians “to be wrong.” The last thing Lewis wanted was to embrace Christianity.
After evaluating the basis and evidence for Christianity, Lewis concluded
that in other religions there was “no such historical claim as in
Christianity.” His knowledge of literature forced him to treat the Gospel
record as a trustworthy account. “I was by now too experienced in literary
criticism to regard the Gospels as myth.”
Finally, contrary to his strong stand against Christianity, Professor
Lewis had to make an intelligent decision:
“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalene, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.” (McDowell, A Ready Defense, citing 52/211, 215,223)
The empty tomb tells us of God’s ultimate power. A power that points to an ultimate purpose. Throughout his suffering, many times Jesus was told to show his power to escape his suffering and his death…but he knew that beyond all demonstrations of power and miracles…it was the ultimate power over death which had to be revealed.
GOD SHOWED HIS ULTIMATE POWER FOR AN ULTIMATE PURPOSE…for
secondly, it was through an empty tomb, God tells us…
2. HIS PRIORITY IS PEOPLE
In the tomb of King Tut were possessions of this world…in contrast Jesus’ was empty…For as Jesus said (Luke 19:10)
“The Son of man came to seek and save what was lost!” (you and me.) He described the King of Hosts as that of a shepherd leaving 99 sheep until he finds that one lost sheep….and when found, all heaven rejoices.
Perhaps that’s a value that is hared for you to see in yourself.
Illus - A gem dealer was strolling the aisles at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show when he noticed a blue-violet stone the size and shape of a potato. He looked it over, then, as calmly as possible, asked the vendor, “You want $15 for this?” The seller, realizing the rock wasn’t as pretty as others in the bin, lowered the price to $10. The stone has since been certified as a 1,905-carat natural star sapphire, about 800 carats larger than the largest stone of its kind., It was appraised at $2.28 million. It took a lover of stones to recognize the sapphire’s worth. It took the Lover of Souls to recognize the true value of ordinary looking people like us.
…As fellow human beings we see that which is frail and flawed, as a father, God sees his child. That is why Jesus was born into obscurity…touched the lepers…the poor…the sinners most obvious and ostracized of all.
THE EMPTY TOMB REMINDS US WHAT MATTERS MOST TO GOD.
Thirdly, through the empty tomb God tells us:
3. HIS PEACE IS BEYOND CIRCUMSTANCES
The first words of our risen Lord to his disciples? “PEACE BE WITH YOU.”
A PEACE UNLIKE ANY OTHER… FOR IT IS A PEACE THAT SPEAKS TO THE FULLNESS OF OUR LIVES AND EXPERIENCE. It’s been said, that “the great tragedy of our lives is that we live between the shame of our failures and the fear of our future.”
> Heer stands the risen Christ. Sets us free from our failures…past…on the cross he bore all the weight of our sin and separation from God…to all who receive him…no more sacrifice…no more shame.
Sends us forward into a future in which he has defeated death.
GOD DID NOT CREATE YOU FOR TIME, GOD CREATED YOU FOR ETERNITY.
final point… through an empty tomb God tells us:
4. HIS PRESENCE IS HERE
“Killing Jesus was like trying to destroy a dandelion by blowing on its white furry seeds.” Death could not hold him who holds the world; HE IS HERE AMONG US…AS INTIMATE AS OUR SPIRITS ALLOW THE PRESENCE OF HIS SPIRIT TO BE.
As we close, consider the discovery of that other tomb…in Egypt. Howard Carter, November 4, 1922 finds the first step. He quickly covered it up…secured the area…and prepared for the fulfillment of his life’s work. He had taken 10 years of digging to find this tomb… and spent ½ million 1922 dollars.
Returned with teams…all gathered around…dug along the steps to the door…put light in. They said, “What do you see?” He said, “Marvelous things.” Went to the top of steps…put his head in his hands and cried. (They assumed he was simply overtaken in joy.) Then he said, “10 years ago I dug 18” from that step.” 10 years of his life had been lost …because he missed what was so close. Don’t miss Jesus this morning. When asked, “Are you the Son of God?” Jesus, said yes…and the final sign is that the Son will be raised from the dead.
Jesus said, I’m standing at the door of your heart…knocking…If you open the door…I will come in and dine with you.”
If you want His forgiveness…His fellowship…all you have to do is open the door of your heart… and ask Him.