Friday, April 14, 2017

Hope Came Dancing on an Empty Grave

Death has Lost Its Rule to the King of Grace*


Our Christian faith hangs almost completely on the resurrection of Jesus. Yes, we need His death as payment for our sin, but if He is not alive and active in the world -- and most especially in our lives -- then that payment means nothing. It died when He did. It must be eternal.

And yes, we need His teachings to guide our lives in the right direction. But without His Spirit within us and love to motivate us, then His teachings are like the Law in the Old Testament -- they only remind us what we cannot do. And besides that, if Jesus isn't a Risen Savior, then we would be following a lunatic, a liar, or a legend (to quote Josh McDowell).

We desperately need the empty grave. But what does it all mean?

Many people think of God as a Judge. We fear the “Judgement Day” when we will be accountable for everything we have done wrong. And for many people, death is the gateway into that dreaded uncertainty.

We have a dilemma because we want justice, but we don’t want judgment. 

We need a justice that is outside of ourselves that comes from a higher place. Without that, there would only be my justice, and your justice – and Nazi justice, and ISIS justice, etc. When unjust things happen, that sense of “it shouldn’t be that way” rises up in us. We want justice for those that wrong us. But for ourselves – we want mercy. How can you have both, and who decides who-gets-what? If you want justice, there must necessarily be judgment. There’s no way around it.

Scripture tells us that God is absolutely holy, and we are the opposite of holy. 

We come screaming into this world innocent of understanding and completely selfish -- and we spend a lifetime trying to behave our way into better character. It isn’t easy and it certainly doesn’t come naturally.

There is only one solution for our condition. We need to be rescued. 

We simply cannot save ourselves. And so, a loving Creator, who has asked us to address Him as our heavenly “Father” reached down into human history and sent a substitute – someone to take the punishment for us. And in that moment on Good Friday, Jesus took your punishment, and my punishment, and laid it on Himself. He paid the penalty so that justice could be served.

With justice finally satisfied, we can move on to mercy. 

You see, God is indeed a Judge – but He is also a Savior. He didn’t abandon us to our rightful verdict of “guilty”. He made a way for us to be forgiven. When we accept the costly gift of God’s mercy by believing that Christ died for us, a miracle happens: Justice and mercy can co-exist.

But the miracles don’t stop there. A dead Savior is no good to anyone. 

Lots of people have given their lives for someone else. The resurrection is absolutely the foundation of the Christian faith. Jesus had to be who he said he was – a Risen Savior -- or he was just a crazy person who made outrageous claims and then died. End of story.

Historians cannot account for the survival of the first-century church. 

Persecution should have abolished the Jesus movement. But instead, another miracle happened – it grew stronger! Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people in and around Jerusalem, saw a Risen Jesus. Not a ghost, but a person with a body that you could touch -- and He promised the same for anyone who believed in Him. 

As we approach Resurrection Day, we can celebrate that the only thing that was permanently abolished on Good Friday -- was a fear of death. 

He is Risen Indeed!

Great Resurrection Movies: "Risen" and "The Case for Christ" (in theaters NOW)
* "Rule" by Hillsong United

1 comment:

  1. Excellent! What kind of God takes upon himself the punishment we deserve so that we will not endure the horror of it? How can we say no to a God like that?


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