Rejoice and be exceedingly glad! Your God is alive!
Sweet William and I will attend a funeral today. My dad’s brother, Uncle Bub, will be laid to rest. His wife and children, grandchildren, sisters, and relatives will gather to remember his life and his legacy and say their final good-byes to one who was loved. Songs will be sung. A sermon will be preached. The hearse will take the body to its final resting place. And we will leave with only our memories of him.
I’ve witnessed the same ritual hundreds of times with countless relatives, friends, and friends of friends. And it is always the same. We leave the body in the grave and walk away. And I know that one day it will be me in the grave and my family will walk away.
But as a Christian, a believer in the One true God and His Son, Jesus Christ, I live in hope, not in fear, of death.
Jesus’ story, told by four men from four different viewpoints and perspectives, ends much the same. Very early in the morning on the day after the Sabbath, after the crucifixion and Jesus’ death, the most important fact in history was discovered.
When Mary of Magdala and the other women went to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid for burial, they could not find Him there. The tomb was empty. They were distressed, confused, concerned. Where could the body be? Had someone stolen it, hidden it? What were they to do with no body to anoint and prepare with spices?
And then the discovery – He is alive! At first it is hard to believe, but then it becomes a reality because they see Him. He reveals Himself to them, eats with them, fixes them breakfast, talks with them as before, lets them view his scars, explains the Scriptures about Himself, instructs them and encourages them.
This is no ghostly aberration. This is a living, breathing, walking-around-man who has come back from the dead.
The resurrection sets the Christian faith apart from all others. Every belief system has its prophet, its leader, the one people put their faith in to be all and reveal all to them. But none have a resurrection story. None has a Savior who died and yet now lives. All others have their grave sites where bone and flesh deteriorated and went back to the dust. None have an empty tomb.
And this is what gives us hope. His resurrection is part and parcel to the crucifixion story. They cannot be separated. Jesus died for our sins but He arose and came back to life to show His victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave. He proved once and for all that He is the mighty conqueror, and satan’s dominion has been cast down, never to be revived again.
The gospel writers conclude with the resurrection story. The remainder of the New Testaments writers reiterate it and bank their faith on it. The church that was born in first century AD stake their lives upon it and willingly suffer and die for it. They spread the word about it to the four corners of the earth. John the revelator writes it in golden pen as He tries to describe the glory of the risen Lamb of God in His heavenly surroundings. And the saints surrounding the throne of God are there with Him because of it.
The resurrection. It’s truth astounds the scoffers. But they cannot disprove it. Too many eyewitnesses saw it and too many lives were changed because of it and too much history was affected by it. And the story of it could not be silenced.
Our God is alive! We worship One who lives today. He lives so that we might live also and that is our hope.
So today at the grave site, we lay another loved one in the ground. But we will see him again because of Christ Jesus, because Uncle Bub knew Him and accepted Him as his Savior and had no fear of the afterlife. He knew there was more to come.
And so though we cry at death’s finality, we rejoice as those who have hope beyond this life, beyond the grave, in the beyond of the moon, sun, and stars. We look for a city whose builder and maker is God. And when we get there we will see Him in all of His glory.
For our God is alive!
We have almost completed our 40-day journey. Stay with us, won’t you?
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