Summary: Five gifts given to God's children because of the resurrection or the empty tomb.
“Gifts from the Grave”
Text: Luke 24:1-8
When we lived in Hawaii, one of the great blessings was seeing these three cemeteries: Punchbowl; the Valley of the Temples; and the Arizona Memorial. We didn’t know anyone buried in these three locations but we enjoyed visiting them. Thousands were entombed in these beautiful, historical and peaceful locations. However, most graves give us no pleasure – just bittersweet memories. Occasionally, I must travel to this cemetery in Giles County where my parents are buried along with my precious grandmother and a host of aunts and uncles and other relatives. No matter how many times I make this sad journey, I never receive any gifts from the hundreds of graves – even from the people I knew and loved. Today, as most in the Christian world focus on our Savior’s resurrection, I want us to look at some things we received from the empty tomb in a lesson entitled “Gifts from the Grave.” We hope you’ll open your Bibles as we study together for the next few minutes and then we encourage you to continue searching the Scriptures this week to make sure I’m preaching the truth.
When Jesus arose from the dead early on that first day of the week, God initiated the gift of glory. The passage we want to associate with this gift is 1 Peter 1:20-21 – He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. You’ll remember the beautiful prayer for unity Jesus prayed on the night of His betrayal in John 17. At the beginning of this prayer, notice His supplication in verses 4-5: “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Jesus left the glory of heaven to be born of a woman and to walk among men in order to redeem them. But, He knew that His return to glory was via Golgotha and the grave. If we are children of God, we can look forward to this same glory – Romans 8:16-17 – The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. We really have something to look forward to as Paul describes it in Philippians 3:20-21 – For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. We spend our Christian lives striving to be conformed to the image of Christ and it will become a reality in the resurrection. The resurrection was the path to return to glory for the Son of God and it will be the door to ours. One final passage about this – 1 Corinthians 15:42-43a – So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. The second gift from the grave we want to notice this morning is gladness. While there are several wonderful post-resurrection events, I believe my favorite occurred on the evening of that first day of the week as found in John 20:19-20 – Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Can you imagine their emotions after thinking the Messiah was dead? He had tried to prepare them but they didn’t understand. Now they know for sure that He has risen from the dead! It’s interesting that the Greek verb translated “were glad” is the same verb Paul used in Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Joy or gladness is a feeling that should characterize us today because we have a risen Savior. Isn’t that what the apostle Paul is trying to convey in 1 Corinthians 15:13-17? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! While you and I have not physically seen the risen Christ, we know He arose from the dead through the eyes of witnesses. If we are children of God, we can be glad and rejoice because our sins have been forgiven. The third gift from the Lord’s grave we want to examine is grace based on John 1:14-17 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.