Good News from the Graveyard
The message of Christianity is good news from a cemetery. Graveyards are always melancholy places because they are associated with grief, sadness, and separation from our loved ones. The cemetery is the last place from which one would expect to receive good news.
From the beginning of time, man has raised the question that was asked by Job in Job 14:14, “If a man die, shall he live again?” Century after century the small and the great, the wise and the foolish, the rich and the poor, the young and the old marched into the silent, clammy chambers of death. People stood in fear of death and the tomb. It remained for Jesus Christ, the God-man, to come with an authentic answer to Job’s painful, perplexing question.
I. The basic truth of Christianity
a. The basic truth of Christianity is found in this angelic announcement: “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said, Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.”
b. The Easter message is not an argument.
c. It is a divine proclamation.
i. The angels declared that Jesus Christ had conquered death and had risen to life.
ii. The apostles experienced his living presence to the extent that they died martyr’s deaths rather than surrender their faith and deny their relationship to him.
iii. The Scriptures record at least eleven appearances of the living Christ to the disciples.
iv. The empty tomb spoke with a shout to declare that he was no longer dead.
v. The present strength of Christianity is a dramatic testimony to the presence of the living Christ who has waked the corridors of time.
II. The message of the empty tomb
a. During the last six months of our Lord’s earthly ministry, he sought repeatedly to instruct his disciples concerning the necessity and nature of his forthcoming death on the cross.
i. They found these teachings impossible to understand and they sought by every means at their command to prevent Christ from going to the cross.
b. His shameful and horrible death on the cross was, for them, a great personal tragedy.
i. He was their dearest friend.
ii. They had placed their complete confidence in him.
iii. They had pinned their hopes for the future of the nation on him.
iv. His death, for them, was a great political tragedy because they expected him to be a nationalistic messiah who would deliver Israel from the domineering power of Rome.
v. His death on the cross, for them, was a public disgrace.
1. There was no more shameful manner in which a man could die.
2. Jesus was condemned as a common criminal and sentenced to death by crucifixion.
3. This was a fate so horrible that Roman law forbade the crucifixion of a Roman citizen even for the most heinous crime.
vi. It was not until the mystery miracle of the first Easter morn that they began to understand what the Savior had been trying to communicate to their minds and hearts.
1. The empty tomb declared to their minds and hearts that Jesus Christ was really the divine Son of God (Romans. 1:4)
a. Jesus Christ of Nazareth had worked in a carpenter shop.
b. He had walked about Galilee.
c. He had become hungry like other men.
d. He had experienced weariness and exhaustion.
e. He knew loneliness and sorrow.
f. He was a man, but he was also God.
i. He gave sight to the blind; he made the deaf hear, he made the lame walk; he brought the death back to life.
ii. He commanded the winds to cease their blowing, and they obeyed.
iii. He ordered the waves of the sea to be calm, an without hesitation they carried out his orders.
iv. On several occasions, he claimed to be the Son of God.
v. He had the audacity to forgive sin.
vi. He claimed to have the power to lay down his life and also to take it up again.
vii. This was the boldest of his claims.
viii. It was the fulfillment of this claim that authenticated the truth of all of his teachings and declared him once and for all to be the God-man.
ix. He was the eternal God with a human body.
2. The empty tomb declares that his death on the cross made atonement for our sins. (Romans 4:25)
a. The hymn writer said, “Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.”
i. So let’s ask the question: “How can we know that the death of Jesus Christ took care of the sin that separates the souls of humans form God?”
ii. The resurrection is the answer.
b. When Jesus was baptized, a voice came out of heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17)
i. On the Mount of Transfiguration, God again expressed his approval.
ii. And he did it once again shortly before our Lord’s passion.
iii. Jesus endured the agony of false accusations and judicial condemnation, where were followed by his indescribably horrible death for the sins of humans.
c. Have you ever wondered what the reaction of the heavenly Father was to awful event?
i. The resurrection is the answer.
ii. The substitutionary death of Christ on the cross perfectly met the requirement of a just and holy God who will bring every sin into judgment.
iii. God was pleased with what had been accomplished by Christ on Calvary that people’s souls might be saved from the penalty of their sin, death.
3. The empty tomb was for the apostles, and for us, a promise of victory over death and over the grave.
a. Jesus has said to Martha before his death on the cross, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26)
b. He also said, “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).
c. This is good news for all of his disciples now living who will one day find themselves in a graveyard if our Lord delays his return.
d. By his resurrection from the dead.
i. Jesus was giving a dramatic demonstration of the reality of immortality.
ii. Eternal life is real.
III. Ours is a living Savior
(Rev. 1:18a), “I am he the Living One; and I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore…”
a. Christianity must be defined in terms of relationship to a living Lord
i. His presence is a fact more solid than the mountains, more firmly established than the stars.
ii. This truth should revitalize our worship, for we come together, not in memory of a dead Christ, but in fellowship with a living Lord who said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20)
b. That he is alive makes prayer more meaningful, for when we pray in his name, we requisition the needed resources from the bank of heaven for the carrying on of his kingdom’s work.
c. Sacrificial service is more meaningful and worthwhile because the resurrection proves that God will bring every good work to fruition.
d. By his living presence, he would unify our efforts and command our very best.
i. Because he is alive with us, we should be encouraged to abstain from evil.
ii. We should be bolder in attempting what is difficult.
iii. We can receive comfort from him in time of sorrow.
The living Savior offers the gift of eternal life now. John 10:10 Jesus says, “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. He is able to save completely all who come to him by faith, because he lives forever to make intercession for them. He can deliver you from the sentence of spiritual death, and he will one day deliver you from physical death. He offers you the gift of eternal life now if you will but receive him as your Savior and Lord.