April 7: Resurrection Living

Read Matthew 28

Today our six-week journey to the empty tomb comes to an end. We’ve seen the journey Jesus chose to take, clothing Himself in flesh and becoming human like you and me. Today we come to the end of our journey and we find that it’s no end at all.

In fact, if we let it, the empty tomb can change everything about forever. The fact that Jesus entered a grave as a dead man and stepped out alive means you and I can know real and eternal life. We can know Resurrection Living because He left that grave empty. Death has no more power.

Because the tomb is empty, you and I can live with purpose. We can know Jesus personally, follow His way and experience joy in the middle of this sometimes really difficult living.

But there is a choice to be made. Will you live differently because of the tomb that Jesus left empty or will you squander the power He wants to give you? The same power that raised Him from death and walked Him out of that grave.

Will you let Him lead your life? Will you let Him be your Lord?

Will you let Him use you to lead others through this journey? Will you introduce someone else to this journey to the empty tomb? Will you tell them the truth that Jesus Christ journeyed through death and on to the empty tomb because of the love He has for you and me and every one of them?

That’s why He left the tomb empty. It’s why we took six weeks to walk this journey together.

It’s time to choose. What will it be? Will the empty tomb change the way you live?

brw

April 6: The Empty Tomb That Sets Jesus Apart

Read Acts 5:12-40

Approaching the end of our journey to the empty tomb, we find the power of Jesus working through the disciples as they preached boldly and spread the truth about Him and the life He gives. We also find Jesus’ enemies threatened by their courage.

From the reading, did you pick up on Gamaliel’s counsel? He was drawing a parallel between Jesus and two other men—Judas and Theudas. Together, Jesus, Judas, and Theudas had three things in common:

  1. All three were counter-cultural.
  2. People rallied around them.
  3. They were all killed.

In the cases of Judas and Theudas, the movement died out with the leaders. Gamaliel was leading up to a point related to Jesus: “No need to kill the apostles. This Jesus thing is probably like the situation with Judas and Theudas. It will die out too . . . unless it is really of God.”

So did it die out? No! Now, 2000 years later, it is stronger than ever with hundreds of millions proclaiming and celebrating Christ. It did not die out, because it really is an unstoppable movement of God.

What is it that made Christ’s story different from that of Theudas and Judas? It was the resurrection that set him apart from these two other “no-names.” Unlike the others, Jesus rose from the dead three days after His crucifixion. As such, He is still at work. Through faith in the immortal Christ, we are given eternal life. Jesus Himself put it like this: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (Jn. 11:25).

It is no surprise, then, that the Immortal Christ set into motion an unstoppable movement. Here is the way that Jesus stated it in Matthew 16:18 “. . . on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” The Church of Jesus Christ remains strong today because Jesus is set apart from people who died and stayed in the grave like Judas and Theudas. His resurrection power moves His Church forward. How are you contributing to this movement?

sbk

April 5: Life in Light of the Empty Tomb

Romans 6:1-14

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness,but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

SaveSave

SaveSave

April 4: The Power of the Empty Tomb

Read Romans 8:1-38

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (v. 11). 

Because of the journey to the empty tomb, you and I can live with resurrection power. The same power that conquered death and left that grave empty lives in all who will call Jesus “Lord.”

This is the truth that Chris Tomlin sings about in his song “Resurrection Power”. Here’s his story about how that song came to be.


You can listen to the whole song here: Resurrection Power with lyrics

 

April 3: Promise Kept

Read Acts 2

Jesus was alive. He had journeyed through the cross and into the tomb. Then Jesus Christ left the tomb empty. Now Almighty God was keeping His promise beyond the empty tomb as He poured out His Spirit right in the middle of the crowd at the Feast called Pentecost.

Photo by Rob Curran on Unsplash

The very alive Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had come to live in those who believed and followed and let Him be their Lord. Just like He’d promised way back in Old Testament times. (See Joel 2:28-32.) That’s how each of the “devout Jews living in Jerusalem from every nation” heard those unschooled fishermen who followed Jesus “speaking in his own language.” (See v. 8.)

That’s how Peter, the impulsive one who denied Jesus’ very acquaintance just 40-some days earlier, could boldly stand and proclaim the truth and challenge that crowd to “. . . know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom (they) crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (v. 36). The Holy Spirit came that Pentecost Day and gave Peter the courage and the power to boldly proclaim the truth about Jesus Christ the Son of God.

And 3,000 men began following Jesus.

The Spirit of God had come to live among His people. The living Spirit of Jesus Christ, the promised gift from Almighty God was alive and well in all His might.

He lives today, too. Same Spirit. Same power.

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call” (v. 39).

He enables men and women to live according to His power and follow His ways and understand His Word. He empowers people to say bold things, the truth of His promises, the wonders of His Word. Stuff none of us could do were it not for the risen and living Lord Jesus Christ.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Because of the empty tomb, the Spirit of God wants to do mighty works through you and me. Are you willing to let Him make you bold and brave and able to do what He wants to do through you?

brw

SaveSave

SaveSave

April 2: Living in Light of the Empty Tomb

Read Hebrews 2:5-18

Jesus defeated death. He conquered sin and paid the debt we owed for it. He journeyed through torture and death – on a cross – so that you and I could know life in light of the empty tomb.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what it was like the moment Jesus walked away from that death container. The absence of such details leaves room for imagining.

Did the stone make a loud noise when it rolled away from the opening? Did Jesus walk out or did He run? Was He singing? Whistling? Was He trimming trees or maybe smelling roses when the women arrived and thought He was the gardener?

One artist pictured it like this . . .

BruegelPietertheElderDreawing

Here’s how Jesus-net describes this piece: “This drawing captures the earthiness of earth. The dark opening of the tomb/sepulchre seems about to crumble away, and one can almost smell the dank odour coming out its gaping mouth. The angel, defying gravity, hovers above the teetering stone that has, despite its size, been rolled quite a distance from the opening. At first sight there seems no sign of Christ, but closer examination shows him hovering above the angel, weightless in his resurrected body. The women, newly arrived on the scene, look up towards the angel, while the soldiers wake from their sleep and gather their wits as best they can. The drawing is full of human activity – there is a certain confused busyness about the foreground scene that sums up what it means to be alive and human.”

Don’t you love the thought that even the horrible stench of death itself had been overcome by the one True God who died so He could live? The God who died so we could live. The dark opening of a dead man’s resting place became the door through which the Lord of life emerged victorious over all the sin, all the stench, all the sorrow.

Yes, today and tomorrow and every day since Jesus’ journey to the empty tomb all who believe and call Him Lord can live in light of the empty tomb. Will you be one of them?

brw

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

April 1: He Is Alive!

Acts 13:32-33; Mark 1:11; John 15:9; Matthew 27:22; Mark 16:6

Jesus’ journey began long before He came to earth. He was promised.

He was sent by the Father to save and heal and conquer the darkness that was our fate. He came.

Love put on flesh and walked the earth so you and I could know God Himself. He loves us.

He suffered and died a horrible death. He was crucified.

And then. Jesus killed death. He is alive!

His journey changed history. Death’s promise became null and void when Jesus walked out of the tomb and left it empty.

Praise God! Jesus is alive!

**Visit the Journey to the Empty Tomb display in the hallway just west of the Family Life Center today and celebrate with us the truth that Jesus lives!

March 31: What the Empty Tomb Means for You and Me

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-58

The next step in our journey to the empty tomb moves us beyond the fact of Christ’s resurrection (attested to by things like the eyewitnesses mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:1-11) to the implications of the resurrection. Much of the passage you read today made a point through a negative statement. For example, verse 17 says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Let’s list them off here in positive terms.

Because Christ has been raised . . .

  • There is a resurrection for others (v. 12)
  • Preaching is useful (vv. 14, 17)
  • Faith is valuable (v. 14)
  • Preachers of the resurrection have integrity (v. 15)
  • Sins can be forgiven (v. 17)
  • Those in Christ have hope (vv. 18, 19)

In many ways, the first and last bullet points in our list become Paul’s main emphasis in the final half of the chapter. Because of Christ’s resurrection, we have hope for future resurrection after our death. At death, your spirit will depart from your body (Js. 2:26). If you are a follower of Jesus, your spirit will instantly be with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). But God even values your body enough that He will one day transform and resurrect it (1 Cor. 15:42-44; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). At the rapture of Christ, He will powerfully raise each of us as a spiritual body that is glorious and imperishable.

In the end, death’s sting is not victorious for those who know Jesus through a personal relationship. Even that is more than a future hope. Right now, we dare not allow ourselves to budge from this hope. Right now, you and I must be serving the Lord as described in verse 58: “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (v. 58).

sbk

March 30: The Gospel and the Empty Tomb

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

The gospel is like a sparkling, multi-faceted gem. When we consider Jesus’ journey to the empty tomb, no matter how we turn it, we observe its beauty while other breathtaking aspects are hidden from view. The apostle Paul trains a spotlight on this life-changing message in these opening lines of “the resurrection chapter.” In four brief statements, he points to gospel essentials.

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” You and I bask in the reality of the substitutionary death of Christ!

Paul also includes the reality that the Son of God was buried. There were, you see, no doubts about His death in the minds of both His advocates and His adversaries. Those who celebrated His execution gladly surrendered the body to the whims of those who grieved His passing as they sought to give His body a proper burial. His death was confirmed by burial.

And then came another gospel essential . . . He was raised. That’s right, after three days, the tomb was empty. He was alive. He talked. He ate. He proclaimed the kingdom of God. He prepared His followers for their future ministry.

And the final facet of the gospel that the apostle relishes is the fact that He was seen. Eyewitnesses gave confirmation to the reality of the resurrection. Women, disciples (including doubting Thomas), and two men on the road to Emmaus were among the more than 500 people who witnessed Him alive after the resurrection.

And, as if that is not enough, even Paul, the author of these lines, had his own encounter with the post-resurrection, living Christ! His writing about the resurrection was not just hearsay based on the testimony of others. Paul could personally attest to the veracity of the resurrection because of His own encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. The resurrection is a glorious facet of the gospel . . . attested to by people who saw the risen Christ!

This gospel is why we celebrate communion together. We remember all that Jesus the Risen Christ has done, we bask in the life He has given us and we celebrate the promise of eternity with Him as we celebrate communion. Perhaps you celebrated with us last evening. If not, will you join us today at 11am or 6pm?

sbk

Follow #JesusFinalHours – Relive the greatest story in real-time at www.twitter.com/gracechurchwoo

March 29: Along the Road to Emmaus

Read Luke 24:13-35

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him” (vv. 15-16).

Jesus had journeyed to the empty tomb and now He walked. He walked a road into Emmaus with two men who were so involved in their immediate situation that they missed the One whose journey they were noting.

The song Move (Keep Walkin’), by Toby Mac is a song of encouragement for someone who is discouraged and may not recognize that God is with them. “I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left, well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet.” Music like this can remind a person that Jesus is always with them, no matter what happens and that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (See Romans 8:39.)  

The disciples on the Emmaus road may have needed that and felt like they had nothing left. They did not recognize Jesus as he walked with them returning from Jerusalem in the afternoon after the Resurrection. How is that possible? Jesus had just been imprisoned, tried, persecuted, sentenced, crucified and buried. Now His body was gone, and some said He had risen from the grave.

The week before, during the Triumphal Entry, they had probably walked with Jesus as He rode a donkey into Jerusalem. The disciples wanted Him to become king and take up the ancient throne of David. But instead He was arrested, condemned and put to death by crucifixion. And now they were trying to figure out an empty tomb and a missing body.  Walking home to Emmaus, they discussed the events of the week.

It is a documented fact that Jesus rose from the dead. Simon Greenleaf, who later founded Harvard Law School, was an atheist who studied the evidence and concluded “the resurrection is one of the best established facts of history.” Sometimes we can live and forget about His presence. But Jesus had not revealed Himself to them, yet. The apostles had to question who this guy was who didn’t even know what had just happened in Jerusalem. So they told Him.

But the message is that God is with us always, whether we know it or not. The disciples did not know it until Jesus “took bread, gave thanks and broke it and began to give it to them” (Lk. 24:30). We can find comfort in Jesus’ declaration that “where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them” (Mt. 18:20). Our challenge is to live consciously and intentionally in Jesus’ presence and to look for Him. Keep walkin’.

Lord Jesus Christ, show us Your ways, O Lord, teach us Your paths, guide us in Your truth and teach us. For You are God our Savior and our hope is in You all day long.

TW