The cross and the empty tomb
by Daniel Ausbun, First Baptist Church Moreland
Yesterday was Good Friday.
Tomorrow is Easter. God died and rose again this weekend. Many Americans might be unclear behind the meanings of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Christians are able to celebrate a risen Savior every Sunday – Easter is a special Sunday reminding Christians of two most important events.
Good Friday is the day Jesus died on the cross at three in the afternoon (Matthew 27:46). There has always been confusion surrounding the cross. In fact, those watching Jesus didn’t understand. They believed He was calling the prophet Elijah, and were waiting to see if Elijah would come (Matthew 27:49).
Easter is the day Jesus rose from the dead. He rose very early in the morning on the first day of week (Luke 24:1). Just as there was confusion about the cross, His followers didn’t understand the empty tomb. The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost (Luke 24:37).
Jesus told His disciples that He would die and rise again (Luke 18:33), but they didn’t understand.
It bothers people when they hear about the death of Christ. It upset Peter in Matthew 16:21. He rebuked Jesus for speaking about something so disturbing. Jesus said things that seemed out-of-place. Everyone is excited about the good things God is doing through the disciples, and then Jesus declares, “I’m going to die.”
The cross is a place of death. Golgotha was a hill outside Jerusalem known as the Skull Place. Public executions of criminals were held there. This wasn’t a pretty 18-karat gold necklace. It was a death chamber.
When Jesus died, God charged His Son with all of our sin and judged the penalty of our sin in Christ. This means Jesus paid the penalty for our sin. God sent His Son to take the curse of sin that was created for us.
Christ’s death also conquered the power of Satan and death. He defeated the power of sin. Satan’s only power over us is sin. Satan doesn’t send people to hell, unforgiven sin does.
Why the cross? Because salvation begins by dying. You die to yourself (Luke 9:23).
The most significant thing Jesus ever did was rise from the dead. Jesus Christ had to come back from the dead because Jesus Christ is God. Since the cross defeated death, He was no longer subject to death. He said, “I am laying down My life so I may take it up again (John 10:17).
The empty tomb reveals Jesus’ victory over the grave. Followers of Christ are now able to experience life beyond death because of Jesus’ empty tomb.
There’s a danger of the empty tomb. While it is true that Jesus conquered death with the empty tomb – that does not mean we have. Having the knowledge that Jesus rose from the dead, does not make you a follower. The guards at Jesus’ tomb knew of Jesus’ Resurrection, but they weren’t followers. They actually made a large sum of money off the Resurrection (Matthew 28:12).
Those who have died to their sin at the cross will experience the victory of the Resurrection. Belief without repentance is not salvation. If you want to be saved this Easter, you need to turn from your sin by dying at the cross. When you give God a blank slate of your life, you’re telling Him, “I trust You more than myself.”
That is what is means to die to yourself.
At Easter you must look at yourself in the gore of His bloody cross and in the glory of His empty grave. Don’t let another Easter pass without experiencing the most important Christian holiday as a born-again Christian.