FAITH COMMENTARY

The cross and the empty tomb

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One of London’s key geographical reference points is the Charing Cross. It’s near the center of the city and it’s commonly used as a reference point in giving directions.

A little girl was lost in London. She was crying when a Bobby — a policeman — asked her if she knew her home address. She didn’t. Did she know her phone number? No. He asked if there was anything she did know that would help.

Suddenly, her face lit up and she said: “I know the Cross. Show me the Cross and I can find my way home.”

As we approach Holy Week, Christians look to the Cross. But there’s another symbol that’s important to Christians. Some even believe it’s more important than the Cross. The other symbol is the Empty Tomb.

It’s early Sunday morning two thousand years ago. The sky is black. The elite Roman soldiers are standing watch, alert. They’re under orders to allow no one to move that huge boulder in front of the tomb. The authorities have warned them that grave robbers might try to steal the body or; worse yet, those pesky disciples might try to take the body and then claim that their rabbi had, indeed, risen from the dead. No way was that going to happen. Plus, the penalty for falling asleep on a guard watch, under Roman law, was to be put to death. So, their eyes are wide open and they’re looking for troublemakers.

Suddenly, there was a violent earthquake and the sky was lit up by a blinding light. Then, the lightning took the shape of an angel. He removed the stone as if it were weightless. When the guards peered into the tomb, imagine their shock when they saw… nothing! The body was gone.

Being a follower of Christ requires faith. But it’s not a blind faith. There’s a lot of evidence for the resurrection. How do we know for a fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and the tomb was, indeed, empty?

First, there’s no evidence that the soldiers or authorities ever challenged its emptiness. No Pharisee or Roman ever led the authorities back to the tomb and said “See, there’s the body.” All they had to do to stop those rumors was to produce the body. But there was no body.

That helps explain the great Jerusalem Revival that we read about in Acts. When the disciples and apostles preached Jesus Christ and him crucified and resurrected, the Pharisees and the Roman authorities had no rebuttal. Their silence was deafening.

We know Jesus was resurrected because, for the next forty days, he was seen by thousands. The Jewish historian Josephus writes of people who said they saw and talked with the man who claimed to be the Messiah — after he was crucified.

And we know that the spread of Christianity over the next several hundred years was supernaturally-powered by the Holy Spirit. The Jews were hostile. The Romans were hostile. The Greeks were hostile. Christianity had nothing going in its favor except that it was true.

Some of us today might be in a tomb. You’re in a claustrophobic and dark place. And there’s a huge boulder blocking your escape.

But, thanks to Jesus, we don’t have to remain in our tomb. Because Jesus died on a cross for your sins and then left His tomb alive, so can you. Our bodies may die. Everyone dies. Followers of Jesus Christ will die. Our bodies will go into some sort of tomb or grave.

But, don’t worry, that won’t be you there. You’ll be with the one whose life, death, and resurrection, gives you a ticket to eternal life where there will be no pain, no cancer, no Alzheimer’s, no death.

On Easter morning, Christians will celebrate the abolishment of tombs and graves. We will celebrate the end of death. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will never die, but will live forever.”

Alleluia. Alleluia.

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