Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 10, 2005
Reflect on empty cross and tomb at Easter

We are approaching Easter once again.

The date changes from year to year but the meaning does not. It is impossible to honestly celebrate Easter without looking to the cross of Christ and the tomb. If we do not consider what they mean, then we are not considering the true meaning of Easter at all.

I have spoken to many people over the years who believe that religion is empty. They believe as they do because they know that they can do as many good “things” as anyone else, and yet they are not religious. They also know that if we are honest we will admit that nothing “we” do will ever change our nature and make it possible to be brought into a relationship with a holy and perfect God. They believe that we are just kidding ourselves if we think that anything we do will ever qualify us to receive the kind of peace and righteousness God enjoys. Therefore, whenever they look at religion, all they see is emptiness and self-delusion.

I have to say that in many respects I agree with them. I agree with them that nothing we do or could do would ever be good enough to deserve us or earn us a place in God’s presence, or qualify us for Heaven in any way, shape, or form. In fact, the Bible also agrees with them, 100 percent (Galatians 2:21).

“Now wait a minute,” you say, “I thought the Bible is filled with all sorts of things we are supposed to do to ‘glorify’ God and make Him happy.” That is true. But the Bible tells us that as Christians we are to do those things. It never tells us we are to do those things to become Christians. The Bible makes clear that we could never, ever do enough things to earn what God wants to give us (Ephesians 2:8-9). That’s where the empty cross and empty tomb come in. Why do I stress “empty?”

Because they are! The cross was necessary, but it is empty. I point this out because many in the world consider the cross as unnecessary. They believe Jesus did all he needed to do before the cross, and that the cross was a senseless act by mean people. Granted they were mean and evil but without the cross the free gift of Eternal Life would not be available to anyone.

Colossians 1:19-20 makes it very clear that without Jesus dying on the cross for you and me we could not have peace with God. Ephesians 1:7 also inextricably connects the cross with eternal life.

The cross is blood stained to be sure, but it is also empty. I point that out because some people want to picture Jesus as still suffering on the cross. He is not; the cross is empty. It has been empty since Jesus died and they took Him down, putting Him in the tomb. And it remains empty for a very good reason; everything Jesus needed to do to take care of our sins and provide for our forgiveness was done on the cross. Everything was paid for; the payment for our meanness, our selfishness, our cruelty, and all of our self-centered rebellion against God was finished on the cross. That’s why Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

Now if everything that could be done has been done, then what is there left to do? Nothing! (Galatians 2:21) And if there is nothing we can do, because Christ has already done it all, why should He stay on the cross? Therefore the cross is empty.

But not only is the cross empty, even more glorious and amazing, the tomb is also empty. And if our hope is to be eternal, how could it be any other way? (Luke 24:5-6)

Even if someone paid for my sins, even if someone removed from me the impending wrath of God, what kind of existence would it be if there was no victory over death? What kind of joy would I be able to embrace knowing that I would have an eternity of separation from God to look forward to? Since my sins had been paid for I would not suffer judgment, and yet I would still be held hostage in the relentless clutches of death. I know me, and I know this life; I can honestly say I would not want to look forward to an eternity of this sameo-sameo existence. Oblivion would be preferable.

But praise be to God, that is not the case, for the tomb is empty because death could not hold Christ. He has risen from the dead, and He is alive forever more. And since death could not hold Christ, neither can it hold anyone who belongs to Christ. That means for those who belong to Christ, for those who believe Him and put their faith in His ability to save them, death no longer has any power over them (Hebrews 2:14). Jesus’ resurrection was absolutely necessary.

Romans 4:25 tells us that just as His death was necessary to pay for our sins, His resurrection was also necessary so that those who put their faith in Him alone be declared “not guilty” by God.

That causes me to celebrate. It causes me to want to tell everyone what Jesus has done for me, and what He has done for them, if they are willing to receive Him (John 1:12). It causes me to look forward with great anticipation and excitement to an eternity with God.

I realize there are those who do not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. They do not believe that Jesus has finished everything for them, and that all they need to do is put their faith in Him to receive the gift of eternal life. But I also realize there are still those in the world who do not believe in the existence of germs; their disbelief doesn’t make it so.

The cross is empty because Jesus had finished the work of salvation. The tomb is empty because Jesus has conquered sin and death, and He stands ready to give you the free gift of Eternal Life if you will only put your faith in Him. There is nothing else you can do.

Well, actually there is one thing, you need to trust God, you need to put your faith in Christ, you need to believe that He has done for you what you could never do for yourself. You need to accept the gift of Eternal Life Christ is holding out to you. (Romans 6:23)

If you will receive Christ by faith, then Easter will truly become a time of celebration for you to. It is a time for the celebration of life, not springtime or the cyclical renewal of the earth, but the spiritual renewal of life that comes about through believing the gospel.

This renewal is brought about by the power of the Holy Spirit when you put your faith in Jesus Christ alone; a renewal that includes Eternal Life when you are made a child of God through His loving grace toward those who believe in His Son.

Join the celebration today. Put your faith in Jesus Christ. He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father apart from Him. Believe in Him, and receive the gift of eternal life. Choose Life; choose Christ.

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