Easter (Mobile Church due to COVID-19 Pandemic) 04/12/20—Highland—Meute
“The Tomb is Empty”
Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24; Jeremiah 31: 1-6; Acts 10: 34-43; Matthew 28: 1-10
Pearl: Every dark, dead place is ultimately empty and temporary thanks to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Function: To move listeners to exercise confident faith that every tomb of life is ultimately empty by be-loving in Jesus Christ and for all for which he stands.
The story of Easter morning, when the women first arrived at the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed, reads kind of like a Marvel comic episode.
there was a great earthquake, which by the way, demonstrates definitively the
way that all creation is impacted by God’s redeeming work.
- You recall that there was another earthquake at the moment when Jesus breathed his last breath as he died on the cross. What happened in the death of Christ impacted the physical world.
perched up on top of the massive stone that was rolled away from the entrance
to the tomb was an angel who looked like lightning!
- The most spectacular lightning I ever saw was out in South Dakota. My roommate Stephen and I woke up to a storm. We noticed lightning that didn’t seem to stop. We opened the curtains and walked outside onto a deck and I am telling you that the lightning was so plentiful that it actually seemed to be constant. There were continuous flashes for easily 30 minutes. Back here in the eastern US we are accustomed to dramatic lightning strikes but they are not constant.
- So I imagine that that angel looked kind of like a person but exploding with electric light.
- And then somehow this dynamically-exploding-with-electricity being spoke. What would that have sounded like? Immediately the angel sought to dispel the very natural fear of the women. At least the women were still aware; the soldiers went out like lights. Then the angel spoke in lightning tongue, that Jesus was no longer in that tomb because he had been raised! (Matt. 28:6).
events of Friday which put our Lord in the grave took a decided and dramatic
turn on Sunday.
- The tomb was empty!
- The tomb was evacuated!
- The tomb was overcome!
That is today’s Easter message: tombs are empty! They are not permanent!
There are many tombs in life! There are many places where hope is ended. Easter reminds you, your faith reminds you that even those tombs will become empty if they have not already.
Choir Director who serves a church in San Diego has unique credentials. She
used to lead a large choir in the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania. She grew
up in that camp herself. Her extended family fled from violence in the Democratic
Republic of Congo and spent almost 25 years in Tanzania before being resettled
to San Diego in 2016. A minister from her church says that she and her two
children move worshippers to tears with their powerful voices even though most
do not understand Swahili or Kibembe.
- A white congregant in his 70s marveled in wonder about the kind of faith that gets you through 25 years living in a refugee camp all the while singing God’s praises! He wondered about the kind of faith that has you dancing and writing new songs about Jesus as you pick flowers and paint ships to try to make rent. What kind of faith is this?
- It is the kind of faith that knows that the tombs are empty!
story reminds me of Nelson Mandela whose tomb was a prison where he was
sentenced for life. While in prison he carried on secret talks with F.W. DeKlerk,
the President of South Africa. While in prison his mother and his only son
died. He was not allowed to attend their funerals.
- He spent 27 years in three different prisons in South Africa. Finally he was released.
- In 1993 he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with F.W. DeKlerk for getting rid of the apartheid system. And then in 1994, Nelson Mandela, former prisoner, became the first black president of South Africa elected by a democratic system.
- Prisons are tombs which can break the human spirit but as tombs and because of what God did with the tomb, even those tombs are empty!
know of a young man serving a prison sentence but while in prison has become so
knowledgeable of our system of law and jurisprudence that there are law firms
now offering him jobs after he is released.
- This is because tombs, places where hope can be lost, also turn out to prove empty…thanks to what God did in Jesus Christ.
has entombed our lives and our world and put us into an exile.
- But Easter tells us that this tomb is empty. It is a tomb, no doubt! But it is empty. It is impotent.
your tomb, it is an empty tomb.
your tomb is a difficult relationship or an addiction or a corrupt structure or
system, it will not last.
- This is because the tomb was empty.
will weather this storm. You will get through this ending. There will be a new
- Because the tombs are empty. Hallelujah!
- Whether your tomb is a difficult relationship or an addiction or a corrupt structure or system, it will not last.
Through 32 years of pastoral ministry I have stood before many grieving people. I always try to impart a message of confident faith and hope in the midst of what is often a grim time.
moments of loss, and grief over the loss, are “tomb moments.” For many those
moments are not short seasons. The death of a loved one is devastating. Your
life is changed and will not be the same without that person or those persons.
- And how about the loved one who is living in the fog of dementia. They are kind of “entombed” in a state of confusion and gradually fade out of contact with you even if they are sitting right there in front of you. Many speak of grieving over the loss of the loved one way before their physical death.
- But our confidence comes from the power of that electric morning when a lightning-covered, angelic being spoke the words that the tomb is empty!
then we officiants usually ask everyone to “believe” in this victory of God over
the grave so that they can live by faith and by hope.
recently gained an insight which gives greater depth to the notion of
“believing.” A commentator wrote that a fuller translation of the biblical word
for “belief” is “be-love.”
- Be-love in Jesus Christ and you will
- So the words from Acts would read, “Everyone who be-loves in Jesus Christ receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).
- “Be-loving” spreads the reality of life which has the power to open every tomb.
- “Be-loving” moves things from the intellectual to a more active reality. If you believe something you show it by doing. This is “be-loving.”
- This is the key. If you be-love in Jesus Christ you will be led into God-like action which will save your very life and will save other lives as well.
- If you be-love in Jesus Christ and if you
be-love in his name you are moving in the direction of God.
- And God’s direction is up and out of tombs!
- God evacuates tombs.
- No matter your tomb, IT IS EMPTY! That tomb will not last. It is not permanent!
- Even if it lasts 25, 30, 40 years, it is temporary!
- Be-love in Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
- I recently gained an insight which gives greater depth to the notion of “believing.” A commentator wrote that a fuller translation of the biblical word for “belief” is “be-love.”
The Prophet Jeremiah spoke the truths of God to the people as they lived in exile. They were displaced from their homeland. Their temple was in ruins. In many ways their hope was lost. They were entombed.
Prophet spoke into this exilic depression saying, “There shall be a day when
sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Come, let us go up to
Zion, to the Lord our God’” (Jeremiah 31:6).
- A “sentinel” is a soldier whose job is to stand and keep watch.
were posted at Jesus’ tomb to stand and keep watch.
- Then came the earthquake; and then came
the lightning-covered being who sat on top of the stone which closed the tomb.
- These soldier-sentinels shook and became like dead men.
- Then came the earthquake; and then came the lightning-covered being who sat on top of the stone which closed the tomb.
- All because…all because…THE TOMB WAS EVACUATED.
of the resurrection of Jesus Christ tombs become empty.
- This is why at that great day of resurrection someday graves will open and the dead will come out of them.
- Tombs are not permanent. Even things as final as tombs are empty!
- Resurrection cannot be stopped by anything.
in the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who was resurrected from the dead.
- The Apostle Paul described the power of be-loving in Romans 8: 38, 39: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Be-love in the risen Lord Jesus Christ and you will find that tombs are empty! Hallelujah! Praise God!