Some Christians do not like the term Easter Sunday; some I know despise it. All of these folks prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday; I do too because that is what happened on that heavenly Sunday morn. Christ rose from the grave. How we came to call it Easter is another occasion of competing with the world, which again, is another whole lesson or course on its own.
But letâ€™s focus on that empty tomb; how did it transform the Disciples of Christ?
First, what were they doing that Sunday morn before they received the good news of Jesusâ€™ resurrection? They were hiding together in great anguish and fear. And their distress led to disbelief:
â€œNow when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.â€ (Mark 16:9-11)
Mary Magdalene and the other women who had gone to the tomb finally convinced Peter and John that the tomb was empty:
â€œThen she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, â€˜They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.â€™ Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.â€ (John 20:2-10)
They still havenâ€™t connected the dots and would not do so until Jesus finally appeared to them and reminded them of all He had taught them:
â€œThen He said to them, â€˜These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.â€™ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, â€˜Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.â€™ And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.â€ (Luke 24:44-53)
After Jesus spent time with them and had ascended into Heaven, they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy the Scriptures tell us. These men were changed. So much so a whole book in the New Testament is written about their joyful change; it is called The Acts of the Apostles, or the Book of Acts as weâ€™ve come to know it. Perhaps we will do a study on that some time, but understand this; these men were radically changed through the knowledge of the Risen Christ. Warren Wiersbe writes:
â€œThe remarkable change in the early believers is another proof of His resurrection. One day they were discouraged and hiding in defeat. The next day they were declaring His resurrection and walking in joyful victory. In fact, they were willing to die for the truth of the Resurrection. If all of this were a manufactured tale, it could never have changed their lives or enabled them to lay down their lives as martyrs.â€
Have you experienced this change? Are you walking in joyful victory or are you discouraged and hiding in defeat? The Passion of the Christ is at times presented as such a solemn and sorrowful occasion, and while His death was horrific, Christâ€™s defeat of death through the empty tomb is cause for celestial celebration and victorious living!
Dear Christian, are you living this victorious Christian life or are you like the rest of the 95% of Christians who live spiritually defeated lives? If so, take your eyes off of your empty bank account and turn them to the empty tomb. Take your eyes off of this fallen world and turn them to the Risen Christ.
And what about you dear seeker; still not convinced of the God-Man Christ, who has risen from the grave to bring newness of life? How else can you explain the change in these men? Of the eleven original disciples who saw the Risen Christ, ten were martyred for their belief in the Resurrection, and John was exiled in his old age. No man dies for a liar or a lunatic; only the Lord Jesus Christ can bring such a change.
I pray He does so in your life today!
And one day we will all be with Christ in Heaven to where He ascended.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright Â© 2012 David Jeffers