Summary: An Easter message about the blessings of the resurrection.
If Jesus Were Still In The Grave
Introduction: We are all familiar with the truth of the saying, "Of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are, it might have been." Have you ever considered what might have been if Jesus Christ had not been raised from the dead? If His shattered and sorrowing followers seeking to anoint a dead body that first Easter had found the lifeless body of Jesus of Nazareth? If the angel had not truly said, "Why seek ye the living among the dead, He is not here, He is risen!" If Peter, who denied Him, had not experienced His loving forgiveness at the "Lord’s breakfast" on the shores of Galilee? If the two puzzled and perplexed disciples on the road to Emmaus, had not known the sweet fellowship of their resurrected and living Saviour that day? If Mary had Martha had learned that His promise of resurrection power to all who truly believe had been but a vain boast? If those who loved and served Him had faced a reality that His analogies about Jonah in the belly of the whale and the destruction and rebuilding of the temple were mere empty words? If the doubts of doubting Thomas had proven to be well founded?
Paul in his resurrection chapter proposes a set of suppositional propositions that would be true if Jesus were still in the grave. If that tomb in the garden outside Jerusalem still contained the body of a carpenter from Nazareth, the whole world would be radically different today. Let us look at of these terrible suppositions and possibilities, if Christ is still in the grave.
IF CHRIST IS STILL IN THE GRAVE, THERE IS NO SAVIOUR OR SALVATION. All the prophecies and promises of a coming Messiah and a Kinsman Redeemer found in the Old Testament would be null and void. Isaiah’s promises of a Virgin born Son of God, his prediction of His enthronement upon the throne of David and his graphic description of His sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, would be patently false and the validity and authenticity of the Old Testament would come into question. Of course, the New Testament then would have no foundation upon which to stand.
The riddle of immortality would yet be unsolved. Man would still be seeking an elixir of eternal life and searching for a mythical fountain of youth. The answer and assurance given 4,000 years ago by Job would be a mere mockery. (See Job 19:25-27)
My editorial article just published in the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper could even subject me to prosecution for making a proven fraudulent claim. In case you did not read it, I will share it with you:
"Shall We Live Again?
"The Easter Season is the time when we are once again called to face the reality of our mortality. A time when we are brought face to face with the age-old question Job asked four thousand years ago in the oldest book in the Bible, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”
The stark reality of man’s mortality is made evident in the life of even the most sceptical. The spectre of death stalks his every step. From the friendly and familiar corridors of our hospitals and hospices, to the far-flung, foreign fields of conflict, death, the common denominator of man’s existence, constantly and continually crashes into our consciousness. The resurrection story insists man face the issue squarely. In it, God urges man to come to grips with the implications of his mortal existence and admit the hopelessness of his dilemma; unless an answer comes from a higher source.
Does the resurrection story give us the real answer to Job’s proposition? Some scoff at such a proposition as a ridiculous paradox. Some shudder at it as a dreadful possibility. Some, not as wise as Job, turn to history outside God’s Word and are led only to the grave and left there. Because secular history is merely mute about the matter. It neither confirms nor denies the prospect of an afterlife. Some turn to science, but find no laboratory, apparatus or technique for analyzing life or death or discovering the fate of a soul. Some rely upon philosophy and find themselves free to speculate and posit theories, but in the end find their hypotheses unreliable, for philosophy has no reliable means of testing its conclusions.
Some of us turn to the only true and reliable source, the Word of God, and find there the only authoritative and satisfying answer to man’s perpetual quest for immortality. We cherish this hope as the established answer. Our hearts vibrate within us as we contemplate Paul’s climatic cry in his resurrection chapter, "O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be unto God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" Our souls are then thrilled by the words of Jesus: “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never, never die!”