The Promise Of The Empty Tomb
The Promise Of The Empty Tomb
I’m a Vikings fan.
So yes, I was one of those devastated people that watched in disbelief as one of my favorite football players, Blair Walsh, missed a “chip shot” that would have likely ended the Seattle Seahawks playoff run and energized a post-season run by the Vikings.
In the moments and days that followed, the conversation shifted from full blame being put on Walsh to other key plays of the game as further reasons behind the Vikings demise. These included fumbles, poor second efforts in the running game and breakdowns in basic execution. Regardless, as a true Vikings fan I already find myself saying, “2016-17 will be our year!"
When I look at the story of Jesus—his death on a cross and coming alive again after being placed in a tomb—it’s easy to see the “chip shot” of the tomb that changed everything while totally ignoring the fuller story that took place before that moment…and its implications on the entire plan God had in motion. Obviously, the overcoming nature of the story of Christ is more positive and encouraging than the loss of the Vikings, unless you’re a Seahawks fan.
If I begin to take a fuller look at God’s game plan, I find promises leading up to the empty tomb that he had in play long before the stone was ever rolled away. The tomb was, in fact, the solidifying of God’s redemptive plan to restore mankind back to himself. Let’s look at some of the things that were put in motion or completed by the resurrection of Christ...
1. In the empty tomb we find that our relationship with God is restored.
I think often about the relationship Adam and Eve had with God. The Bible tells us in Genesis that they spoke with God, walked with him in the garden, and that God supplied their needs. They enjoyed perfect relationship with God in a perfect place. When God put a plan in motion for Christ to die, rise, and save mankind, it was to restore this relationship (Eph. 1:4).
God cares about people. He made them in His image (Gen. 1:27). His love for people and frustration with their rebellion against Him is as passionate as that of a parent who knows what’s best for their child. Throughout Scripture God passionately appeals to people to return to Him, makes demonstrations of His love that entice people to acknowledge Him, destroys the enemies of His people, and at one point, regrets making mankind as he is deeply troubled by what they had become (Gen. 6:6).
God is invested.
This investment is put on full display in John 1:10-13:
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
Look at His plan for relationship with us:
We were created in His image.
We were redeemed (bought back) from our sin.
We are now received as His children.
Not only did God give us back relationship, but he brought us closer to Himself than He had initially.
If we accept who He is and what He did, the empty tomb become symbolic of a very personal relationship God desires with us.
2. In the empty tomb we find that our relationship with God is accessible.
When Jesus rose from the grave, the stone was rolled away from the opening in his tomb.
The stone, or barrier, was symbolic of the barrier between God and mankind.
After Adam and Eve’s fiasco in the garden, God spoke to Moses and created an agreement with mankind known as the Law. The Law is recorded in the Bible and lays out (in painful detail) the covenant between God and His people. The Law reigned for all the years between Moses and Jesus.
Part of the Law included provisions for a temple where God would be worshiped, where His presence or glory would come down and reveal Himself and His plans to the people, and where the sins of the people would be atoned for using offering and sacrifices. One part of the temple was known as the Holy of Holies and only one priest was allowed to go in there at an appointed time to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. If the priest had any blemish in his life, he would be struck dead upon entering this area.
At the moment Christ died on the cross, some powerful things took place on earth: the earth shook, rocks split, tombs broke open, dead people were raised to life, and the curtain in the temple (some say 8 inches thick) was torn in two (Matthew 27). The tearing of the curtain was symbolic that the Law had been changed. The holiness of God that formerly separated people from Him now consecrated people to Him. The Spirit that dwelt behind the curtain in the temple now came to live in them. The Holy of Holies was no longer an earthly place with physical offerings but was now set in Heaven with the blood of Jesus as a permanent offering.
God made Himself accessible.
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever…"
Jesus has restored mankind, offered forgiveness to mankind, and removed any barrier (man, beast, or curtain) between the Almighty and the individual.
He removed the barrier and offered himself as the mediator.
3. In the empty tomb we find that our relationship with God is powerful.
Jesus overcame death.
1 Corinthians 15:55,57
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
"Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
By overcoming death itself, Jesus was truly able to say he had overcome all things.
He made this bold declaration to the disciples after his resurrection:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)
Jesus left the grave and left earth to be seated at the right hand of his Father in heaven.
Since his ascension from earth he has remained there.
He will continue to remain there until he returns to earth, retrieves his people, conquers the enemy once and for all, and establishes a new heaven and new earth to share with mankind for all eternity.
Our relationship with God is powerful because Jesus passed his authority on to us.
This was part of his plan of restoring mankind.
God not only restored us from our sinful nature but he gave us great power.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
The empty tomb not only symbolizes the overcoming work of Christ, it stands as a witness for you and I that we can also overcome.
There is power available to those who believe. It’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead that now lives and works in us.
This power comes from God’s Spirit.
This power is not tiny, minimal or barely enough.
This power is incomparably great.
His empty tomb has given us all we need.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3)."
Regardless of whether or not you’re a Vikings fan, “2016-17 will be your year!"