EASTER 1997 (3/30/97)
A TOMB TELLS ALL
In the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin is at school, and his teacher is attempting to teach the class: 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.. 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.
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. beaten until unable to stand…nailed to a cross….Pierced…water and blood.
Four experts sign dearth certificate.
Prepared for burial with 100 lbs of spices and garments…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…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…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.
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…; and the Roman guards could simply have denied…said, “Here’s the tomb!”
The truth is Peter could stand forty days later and proclaim undisputed…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!