Resurrection Sunday. It is early. I am still. Lord, what do I say? We celebrate Easter with bunnies, baskets, hidden eggs, and squeals of delight, while an empty tomb beckons. One day a dead body. The next, only burial clothes. One day a fortified cell. Defeat. The next, a symbol of hope. One day the finality of man’s worst punishment. The next, the finality of God’s eternal deliverance.
What is here for me at the mouth of the empty tomb? The resurrected life. Alive in Christ, having died in Him. God shows me: Selfishness cannot live in the face of sacrifice. The dying to self of the crucified life is absolutely necessary for the glory of a resurrected life.
What may appear to be a checklist of good works (see “Crucified Like Him”) is but the natural result of a crucified self. But there is nothing natural about it. Not when God sums up the condition of man’s heart as “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Job 17:9). We can honestly say we were born that way. For that, Jesus died. Brutally. Innocently. Without sin. For what we deserve. To pay the eternal penalty we owe for our sin. The penalty owed by every one of us. No exceptions.
Jesus’ shed blood is the only verdict that will stand in the heavenly court of law when we stand before a holy God. To put our faith in Jesus as the only source of our salvation, to be saved by grace through faith and nothing else, is to die to self and be raised in new life in Christ. Just like He was. Resurrected from death to eternal life. Yes, eternal life in heaven when we are saved. Guaranteed. Because of one man’s sacrifice. The Son of God.
How do we not see? How do we not fall on our faces in joy and sorrow? How do we not rejoice? How do we not receive the free gift He offers? How do we not respond with the one simple requirement: faith. In Him, and Him alone. How do we not love Him because of His great love for us?
The empty tomb awaits. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Where once our tomb was a place of hopelessness, uncertainty, death, and bondage, in Christ, it is now empty of those things and filled with the Spirit of the living God.
Do you see it? When we place our faith in the resurrected Christ, all things are made new. Where there was once sin and destruction, there is now an empty tomb. A place of hope. We are raised to new life in Christ.
Where alcoholism once sealed us in our tomb, it is now empty. Where sexual immorality once sealed us in our tomb, it is now empty. Only grave clothes. Our old self is no longer there. Where anger and strife once sealed us in our tomb, it is now empty. Where ambition once sealed us in our tomb, it is now empty. Jealousy, envy, and discontentment? Only grave clothes. Eating disorder? Only grave clothes. Hurt, brokenness, unforgiveness, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, broken marriage, broken home, drugs, stealing, murder, homosexuality, hatred, judgment, gossip, unkindness, selfishness, self-seeking, pornography, impure thoughts, vulgar language, coarse jesting? Yes, grave clothes!
In the emptiness of the tomb we find the sobering uselessness of all our pursuits for a substitute. The uselessness of the counterfeits Satan offers to distract us from true salvation. True deliverance. True joy. True security. We find that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). And as He continues in that verse, “No man comes to the Father but through me.”
Will you come to Jesus? To find forgiveness, peace and hope. To find the crumpled up burial clothes of a life once eternally condemned. To find an empty tomb because you’ve been raised up in Christ to a new life where all things are made new.
Are there sins you need to confess? Bondage from which you need to be set free? When you go to the empty tomb, do you find yourself wearing your burial clothes again? Jesus died for it all. He secured victory, once and for all. The sins we’ve committed, are committing, and will commit. It is all on Him. It is only on us to come. And to return.
Romans 8:1 assures us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” We must take responsibility, but condemnation is not ours. Not in Christ.
Stand at the mouth of Jesus’ empty tomb and rejoice. Death is defeated. Eternal life a guarantee for those who put their trust in Jesus.
Lord, may we find grave clothes crumpled in the tombs of our hearts every day as we become more wholly Yours.