Summary: This can be used as the third in the series or a stand alone Easter Sermon. It investigates the unexpected things we find in the shadows of an empty tomb. Life, Hope, Love, Eternity are investigated.
Shadows of the Cross Pt 3
In the Shadows of an Empty Tomb
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome ¡V these were the women who made the journey to the garden tomb outside the walls of Jerusalem to prepare the body of Jesus for final burial. Their task was obvious ¡V bring the burial spices ¡V anoint the body of their dead leader ¡V and commit His body to the grave. Not a particularly fun morning would you agree? You see for these women and for the disciples as well ¡V it was all over ¡V all that they had worked for, dreamed about, and hoped had ended on Friday¡¦s cross. In blood and pain their expectations came to an end when Jesus said It is finished and breathed his last. They had watched and helped as the lifeless body of their hopes and dreams was laid untended in a garden tomb and placed under guard and Roman seal. As they make their way to the tomb the anxiety rises ¡V who will roll the stone away ¡V how can we reach him? How can we do what we¡¦ve come to do? They arrive at the tomb and they find in it¡¦s shadows some things they did not expect. In the shadows of a tomb¡K
1) Where death reigns they found life ¡V It seemed to these women only obvious to come to the tomb. You see they came to finish a job not to find a Savior. But confronted outside the tomb Luke¡¦s Gospel says they are confronted by a question from the angel. ¡§Why do you seek the living among the dead?¡¨ Have you ever thought about that question? To these ladies it was only obvious to seek Jesus in a tomb. They had seen him die. They had seen Him hanging on a cross, they had seen him pronounced dead, they had seen him laid in the tomb (dead). Where else would they look for Him. In their experience dead people were dead people. Death was real and it was permanent. For heavens sake the obituary was in the Jerusalem post. ƒº Yet the angels ask a pointed question ¡§what are you here for?¡¨ The tomb is a place of death but look inside you¡¦ll find that in the shadows of this tomb life has conquered death. ¡§He is risen, just as He said¡¨ is their proclamation. In the shadows of this empty tomb we also find life. Romans 6:3 says ¡§we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.¡¨
2) They found Hope ¡V ¡§He is Risen.¡¨ Cemetery¡¦s are not filled with hope. Mourning, questions, pain, grief, but not hope. As these women made their way to the garden tomb that morning they were without hope. All that they had dreamed about ¡V all that they had invested their lives in seemed to be at an end. This man who was to be Savior has now been slain. So hopeless were they that when they entered the tomb they began discussing who might have come and stolen the body. Jesus had told them clearly that He would return but they had so little hope left that they didn¡¦t even remember His words. Angels had to confront them and tell them that this is exactly what Jesus said would happen. Peter later would write ¡§Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you¡K¡¨ In a hopeless place hope becomes real.
3) They Found Love ¡V ¡§the son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men.¡¨ Understand something folks ¡V what happened during these 3 days in the shadow of the cross was not something that could have been prevented. From the time of the fall of Adam, man was in need of a savior. Even as God pronounced the death sentence He also proclaimed the coming of Messiah. From the moment of man¡¦s sin ¡V a collision course was set ¡V a battle joined ¡V and at the moment of the enemies greatest triumph came his absolute defeat. What is this all about ¡V the table behind me tells the story ¡V the story of the perfect lamb of God ¡V slain on the alter of sinful men ¡V but raised again to life ¡V to take up your life and mine. Why? For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son ¡V that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. God so loved His creation that even when we were sinners He died for us.