“What an Empty Tomb Can Do”

April 8, 2023

How odd that his enemies understood him better than his friends! His enemies placed a guard and sealed the tomb. His friends ran away. One denied him three times. At first reports, they regarded it as nonsense and did not believe (Luke 24:11). They didn’t understand the scripture (John 20:9). They were afraid of the Jews (20:19). Their hearts were hard (Mark 16:14). In a sonnet, D.A. Carson captures the mood:

No heroes, these: defeated followers all,
  Their nurtured faith extinguished, snuffed the flame
  Of courage. Quite abandoned now the game
  Oneupmanship (“Not I, Lord; I’ll not fall!”),
  Displaced by furtive fear’s disabling pall.
  More crippling than the sickening fear, the shame;
  And cowed by common cowardice, they came
  Upstairs together, spiritually mauled.
    Reports come in of shattered, vanquished Death,
    Of Life’s appearance in triumphant mood.
    Begins the birth of hope, the death of death,
    Of failing, faithless men with faith endued.
Arranged of old, unqualifiedly new:
Such change is what an empty tomb can do.*

Their unbelief, cowardice, and misunderstanding are hardly résumé enhancements for religious leaders. Their unflattering testimony about themselves is unlikely to have been made up. So, how do we account for the dramatic change in their lives from cowards hiding from the Jews to courageous proclaimers of the resurrection of Jesus. C.F.D. Moule stated it this way:

If the coming into existence of the Nazarenes, a phenomenon undeniably attested by the New Testament, rips a great hole in history, a hole of the size and shape of Resurrection, what does the secular historian propose to stop it up with?

The explanation for the change from “old” to “unqualifiedly new” is best explained by “what an empty tomb can do.” Jesus was raised from the dead.

But the “unqualifiedly new” of the Apostles and early Christians was no minor affair. The dramatic event of the resurrection brought a dynamically different life in the disciples. The New Testament can talk about crucifying the old self, putting on the new self, and newness of life. That’s spiritual major surgery not a Band-Aid. Jesus was not a religious good luck charm to be dragged out of the drawer a couple of times year. Jesus became their life and their Lord. What about in your life? “Such change is what an empty tomb can do.”

*D.A. Carson, Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century (Baker Books, 1994), p. 67.


The Glorious Resurrection of Jesus

April 21, 2022

Our faith and our salvation are built upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The historical fact of His resurrection cannot be over emphasized.  There is no way in which we could speak of it too often, for it is a key and critical component to everything we believe.  As Paul writes to the church at Corinth (who were doubting the resurrection of the dead), “But if there is no resurrection from the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain… and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, 17-19, NASB) Without the resurrection of Christ, our faith is meaningless, we are still in our sins, and we have no hope for the future.

“But the fact is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, NASB) This is the glorious fact!  Jesus was raised!  There are many powerful and convincing proofs of this fact.  There are many eyewitness accounts of this fact.  We can be assured that His resurrection is real, and our faith can solidly rest in this reality.  And because He is risen, we are no longer in our sins!  Because He is risen, we have hope of seeing our loved ones again!  Because He is risen, we too will be raised with a glorious new body!  Christ is the first fruits of those who have died.  He was the first to rise, never to die again, and we will follow after Him.

Because of the resurrection, there is a momentous day coming for us.  The Lord Jesus is going to return from heaven, and when He does, we will all be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.”  (1 Corinthians 15:52-53, NASB)

Are you ready for that day to come?  Will you be found in Him on that day?  Those who are in Christ in this life will share in His glorious resurrection.  Let us praise God with all our hearts today because Jesus is risen!             

—Scott Colvin


The Meaning of Jesus’ Resurrection

April 19, 2019

How can we express what the resurrection means? It means vindication. Jesus really is the Messiah, the Anointed One, who fulfills the promise made to David. The chief priests had rejected him. The crowds had cried, “Crucify him!” Peter preached that the resurrection gives us the certainly “that God has made him both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

It means forgiveness. The wages of sin is death. God warns against eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17, ESV). The sacrificial system of the Law of Moses was a pointer to what God would someday do on the cross. Life was in the blood. A life was accepted in exchange for the life of a sinner. “He (that is God) made him who did not know sin a sin offering in our behalf, in order that we may become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

It means reconciliation. Adam and Eve had walked with God in a way that it is difficult for us to imagine. Our only hint is in Genesis 3 when they heard the sound of God walking in the garden, and they knew what the sound meant, so they hid themselves because of their sin. Paradise was lost. Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden. Yet, God has sought to reconcile the world to himself. Because of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, we can approach the throne of grace with confidence. As Christians, we become a temple of the Holy Spirit. We look forward to once more having access to the Tree of Life and walking in God’s glorious presence.
It means transformation. Yes, I need to be forgiven of my sin, but I also need a moral makeover. I need to become a better person. Following Jesus and putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit is the process of that moral transformation. God’s desire is that we be conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29).

It means eternal life. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Jesus is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead anticipates and is the basis of the resurrection at his coming. Death has been conquered. Yes, we may still have to experience physical death, but those who are in Jesus have life and hope of eternal life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24, ESV). “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11, ESV).

How wonderful and marvelous — He is risen!