Summary: If the body of Jesus had decayed into dust within the borrowed tomb, we would not be singing the songs of Easter. They thought It was a tragic end to the “One” who had raised the dead. Tears told the sadness in their hearts. Resurrection shatters the grip of fear.
In Jesus Holy Name April 4, 2021
Easter Sunday Redeemer
Text: Mark 16:6,7a
“Friday Tragedy? Easter Triumph!”
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Philip Yancy wrote: “Christianity has two great symbols to offer the world, a cross and an empty tomb. An empty tomb without a cross would miss the central message of the gospel…” The Easter event is the ultimate test of faith. The one great watershed that ultimately divides believers from unbelievers is the resurrection of Jesus from death.
It is true you cannot separate the wood of the manger, in which the infant Jesus was placed, from the wood of the cross on which His arms were stretched.
On that “Good Friday” afternoon, the darkness of the midday was frightening. God was turning His back on His only Son, dying on the cross. On the cross Jesus had absorbed the sins of the entire world. The sun was trying to break through the glum that filled the air and hearts of those standing near the three crosses, but it could not. Most of the crowd started drifting away.
A soldier leans a ladder against the center tree, removes the stake that holds the beam to the upright part of the cross. The man in the middle is lowered to the ground.
You can hear the words of Joseph: “Careful now.” The 5-inch nails are wrenched from the hard wood, freeing the limp hands. Tears of grief touch the dust of the earth. The disciple John can barely hold the weeping mother of Jesus upright. The blood that came from the lashings and from the crown of thorns is dry now. But they must hurry. The Sabbath hour is near when no one can work nor bury the dead.
Nicodemus unrolls the linen cloth he brought. He places it on a rock beside the lifeless body of Jesus. The two Jewish leaders lift the lifeless body onto the linen shroud. The body is anointed with perfumed species. His own tear falls on the face of the crucified King. They carried the body to an unused tomb. It was a tragic end to the “One” who had worked miracles, raised the dead back to life and restored broken bodies.
Words failed the day Jesus died. Tears told the sadness in their hearts. On that Friday evening these two men and a few women did not know what you and I know. They had forgotten that Jesus promised that on the third day He would rise from death.
Friday evening, all is quiet. Saturday. The disciples wept. Their hopes dashed at the tragic death of the One, they had hope would be the Messiah. This is what the day of Good Friday and Holy Saturday was like for them. The death of Jesus on the cross WAS the plan of God since the beginning of time. God had accepted Jesus’ holy life as payment for the sins, the broken commandments of every person. Animal sacrifices would no longer be necessary.
Jesus had died. Three days later He was dead no longer. The once supposed tragedy became a triumph over death and the grave. Just as He promised, He had overcome death, the last enemy. His death and resurrection were no aberration in God’s plan. He is Risen! Now on Easter we celebrate the secure promise of eternal life. It is a gift for all who place their trust in the cross and empty tomb of Jesus. He is Risen!
On that first Easter Sunday, in the predawn hour, in the dark tomb of Joseph, the heart of Jesus began to beat. The Spirit of God breathed the breath of life into His body. His resurrected body passed through the linen shroud. It fell flat. Unwrinkled. Yet retaining the marks of the crucified, now risen Jesus.
You can not have it both ways: Either Jesus actually rose from the grave or He did not. There is no middle ground. (Paul Maier The Lutheran Witness April 2007) You can not say He rose in spirit but not body.
The physical resurrection of the body of Jesus from death shatters the grip of fear that confronts every human being. People want to know what happens when our heart stops beating. Is there hope? What is waiting on the other side? When people do not know Jesus they invent their own answer. It is Satan who holds people in this slavery to the “fear of death”. The resurrection of Jesus shatters Satan’s grip of fear. “Because He lives all fear is gone!” (Hebrews 2:14)
On the cross Jesus took upon Himself every broken commandment, every one of our failures and left them there. Philip Yancy was correct. You cannot separate the cross from the empty tomb, and glorified resurrected body of Jesus.
Between the once thought tragedy of Good Friday and Easter Sunrise the greatest battle in human history was fought. It was the battle between Satan, who “holds the power of death” and God who shattered the iron bars of death with the resurrection of Jesus. On that day the earth shook. Death could not hold the Son of God. That is why the angel told the women: “I know you are looking for Jesus He is not here He has risen from the dead. Go and tell His disciples.”