This evening we remember that Jesus faced Gethsemane- the place of crushing. Today was the day that the Son of Man had to wrestle with what His Father was asking him to do. Even the angel that was sent to comfort Him was no comfort. We are told that the Lord sweat great drops of blood in His agony. He knew what lay before Him and He didn't want to do it. The strongest instinct we have is self preservation. Yet the one who knew no sin wrestled with becoming sin. It was the separation from the Father as a sin bearer; this was His agony.
Have you seen "The Lord of the Rings"? Just as Bilbo suffered with the weight of evil that the ring was to him, our Lord suffered with the weight of sin for the entire world. The closer he got to the end, the more intense the battle became.
Maybe you don't believe in sin.
What is sin? Sin is a word that simply means, "missing the mark." When you shoot an arrow into a target and miss the bulls eye it is sin- missing the mark. What is the bulls eye of God? Perfect love- to be H O L Y. I have no delusions about my goodness. I have no desire to face a holy God on my own merits, on my works. Lord God never. For me, receiving grace and mercy was the greatest hour of my life. I will never forget it. As I felt the burden lift, as I knelt weeping full of grace, full of hope; such sweet deliverance.
Maybe for you, this is all a story. Maybe for you this is not your way. You want to worship nature or just experience spiritual feelings. You want to work out your beliefs with other teachers other ways. That is your choice. But God, in His great love has provided perfect love. He says His way is LIFE.
The tomb is empty.
IF Jesus is not risen then we above all men are most to be pitied. For if Jesus is still dead, then we are still in our sins, their is no resurrection, and this whole life is a big joke. Our faith is in vain, futile, stupid.
We would be following an insane man who made ridiculous claims. Even saying Jesus was a great teacher is stupid. If He didn't rise as He said He would then He was a false teacher, a liar, a lunatic.
Would people die for a false claim?
The disciples who witnessed the resurrection were transformed from terrified cowards into courageous evangelists. All of them but one were brutally killed. The same men who slept in the garden exhausted by sorrow. The same men who left Jesus to face his torturers alone. They ran away. They did not understand that He was going to raise Himself from the dead. He told them, more than once, but they did not hear it.
No one expected to see him again.
Some say He wasn't dead; He just swooned and then revived in the cold of the cave. Well seriously, that takes more faith to believe. Death is so obvious. Death doesn't look like a swoon. No one who looked like death would revive anyway. It takes tremendous effort in the ICU to fight death away- and we loose that fight a lot. No, death has a face of it's own that is as clear as seeing an elephant. You know when you see one. Those Roman guards who dealt with death every day knew exactly what it looked like. And those who loved him would not have swaddled his face in death wraps if they hoped for breath to return. History has recorded that Jesus did die.
If he is still in the tomb, then why did more than 500 witnesses declare they had seen Him again alive?
Witnesses that testified to this at the cost of life. They were killed for their testimony.
It is the resurrection from the dead that sets this faith apart from all others. No other religion or teacher has ever been raised again to life.
There is the rub. This is the teaching that separates the men from the boys. Because if Jesus is who HE claimed to be, then He is coming again. This time He will not come meek and lowly, to a poor stable as a baby. This time He will come in power with eyes like flames. This time He will come as Aragorn came to defeat the ring and all the evil was blown away, washed away and swallowed up by earth; so Jesus when He comes will speak; and the power of His word will blow all the evil away.
You see, at the right time God will settle everything. He will set the world right. He will remove suffering. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. He will create a NEW heaven and earth. It will be a time of glory and peace. It is coming.
Why the delay? Why not do it now? Why do we struggle here with all the injustice?
To delay judgement. This time is a time of grace. A time for you to come to the tomb and see.
The tomb IS empty.
Today is Thursday. We remember what the Lord suffered. It begins tonight. The beatings, the long cold dark night, the crown of thorns-spikes, hideous horrible spikes pounded into his head. The long night thrown in a pit, bleeding, bruised, burdened. Tonight it begins. His torture will continue until 3 in the afternoon tomorrow, when Jesus takes one more breath and declares, " IT IS FINISHED."
Finished for the whole world.