I love the old hymn that goes like this, “My hope is found in nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…” The centrality of the Christian faith is the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan by Jesus!
The Good Friday message is that Jesus died for you and for me. He endured the cross even unto death. His blood was shed He served as our high priest with offering Himself as a once-and-for-all sacrifice (Hebrew 9)! He died for our sins!
Yet it is what happened Sunday morning that transforms the agony of the cross into the victory of the empty tomb! Our easter hope is not based on figuring out where Christ’s crucifixion and burial took place, but rather we base it on what the resurrection means for us. It means life and victory of death. It means that God has the final word on the outcome!
We also, as I like to say while leading trips to Israel, worship the person and not the place. Whether today’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher (first built around 325 AD) or the Garden Tomb (a new tradition dating to the end of the 19th century AD) is the place (archaeologically, the former seems to be at least the more likely location), discovering the precise location is not our focus. What is our central focus, however, is the fact Jesus came to fulfill His Father’s purpose. On Sunday morning, the tomb was found empty. The angel’s proclamation says it all, “He is not here… he is risen!”
“Jesus died on the cross on Friday. He rose from the dead on Sunday. He conquered sin and death once and for all. Thus, our hope is made secure in the accomplished work and victory of Christ.“
The Apostle Paul wrote about the centrality of the resurrection in this way (from 1 Corinthians 15)
“ But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.” 22
Paul concluded this powerful chapter with these words,
“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
This easter, may we personally know the accomplishments and victory of Easter!
From your friends at BIMT, have a blessed Easter!