Easter

Luke 24:1-5 "Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’"

People have always been fascinated by death and the dead. All over the world there are monuments to the dead. People have a reverent feeling for these places of the dead. At the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, USA, there is the feeling of standing on hallowed ground, because, here, men fought and died for a cause that they believed to be greater than themselves.

In Washington, D.C. USA, there is Grants Tomb and the Lincoln Memorial. Arlington Cemetery has the tomb of John Kennedy and thousands of white crosses. Mount Vernon, Virginia, USA, holds relics and the tomb of General Washington. Thousands of tourists visit these places everyday. One of the biggest tourist attractions in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, is the graveyard. The water level there is too high to bury anything. The dead are buried in little oblong boxes of concrete and marble which stand above the ground.

All these places, though far removed from each other, have something in common. The remains of the dead are there.

Some of the cliff dwellers in New Mexico, USA, hid their burial grounds. Archaeologists have unearthed many skeletons, but the crumbling bones of thousands are still undisturbed. The remains of the dead are still in their tombs.

In the lands of the sun worshipers, there are terraces and stairways that climb up the mountains to the top. There on the summits, behind the crumbling stone of the sun temples, are the burial places of the sun worshipers. The remains of the dead are still there.

In Nara, Japan, there are beautiful lakes, lotus pools and gardens around the enormous temples. In these temples incense burns day and night. Here are the Imperial Ancestors, the gods that the Japanese believe the royal family is descended from. The Emperor goes to worship at this shrine once a year and offers prayers to the dead who are entombed in the temple.

In India there is the Taj Mahal, a beautiful tomb. The motive for building this beautiful structure was to house one who was beloved and dead.

In Ceylon, there is a bell shaped temple that is sacred to millions of Buddhists. They say that the dust of the heart of Buddha is there.

In Egypt there is the valley of the dead. The pyramids hold the mummified bodies of the pharaohs, the remains of the dead are still there. People travel many miles to look at these burial places of men who once ruled the world.

In Europe there is a level plain outside of Rome, where the Caesars raised huge marble memorials to themselves. Much of the marble has either been stolen or crumbled. But the remains of the dead are still there.

England has Westminster Abbey. Westminster is famous because it is here that Kings are crowned and buried. The remains of the dead are still there.

We live on earth for just a short time in comparison with eternity and for centuries the tombs have been filling. Those narrow houses of death have received many since sin and death entered the earth. Man, who should have been immortal, dies and is buried and in every tomb lies the remains of the dead.

But one day, just hours before the Passover feast began, there were three men who shared the same fate. On Execution hill, by order of the Governor, they died as criminals. Then two members of the supreme court of the Jews, took down the body of one of the dead and laid it in a new tomb, in a small garden near Execution hill. This occasion, was just like countless others. While women wept, the door to the tomb was closed. That tomb was occupied by the dead. Everyone knew it. The Roman officers came and put their seal on it. Death was the penalty to anyone who would break the seal and take the dead away.

 Then came a new dawn. The early hours of a spring day, when new life was springing forth from the earth. The fragrance of flowers and the songs of birds in the air. Women with heavy hearts came and found that the stone had been rolled away. They heard the angel say, "why seek ye the living among the dead, He is not here, He is risen."

NOT HERE! HOW CAN THAT BE! EVERY WHERE ELSE, THE DEAD ARE THERE. The dust of the heart of Buddha lies in its jeweled urn, the leather like faces of the Pharaohs lie in state, in Egypt. The sun worshipers are in the graves back of their crumbling temple.

BUT THE GARDEN TOMB IS EMPTY.

We use a cross as a symbol of Christianity. But in truth we ought to use an empty tomb. For resurrection is what makes Christianity different from every other religion. With out the resurrection of Jesus, Calvary would have been just another event in history, long forgotten. Resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.

Paul said, Jesus was the first fruits of them that slept. But resurrection of the dead was not a new thing. Resurrection of the dead had been a fact long before Jesus was raised from the dead.

Elijah raised the son of a woman who had befriended him. 1 Kings 17:17-23. Elisha raised the Shulamites son 2 Kings 4:18-37. Once during a battle, a dead soldiers body was thrown into the tomb where Elisha's bones reposed. When the body of the dead man touched the bones of the prophet, he was restored to life and rejoined the battle. 2 Kings 13:21 Jesus broke up a funeral service in Nain by raising the young man from the dead. Dorcas lived again, a small girl lived again, and Lazarus was called and came forth.

So, Jesus, was not the first to rise from the dead, but He was the first to come back permanently. All of the others died again, but Our Jesus is alive forever more. HE IS THE ONE, who has the glorified body.

In Hebrews 10, it says, "Lo, I have come to do thy will oh God! A body thou hast prepared for me." Actually, it would have been more accurate to say that God had prepared three bodies for Jesus. 

God has always desired to be in the midst of the people, but people could not stand to be close to Him, because their sin and His holiness would not mix. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a human body was prepared for Him. This body was a body that could die for the sins of men and make it possible for them to be close to God once more. When Jesus was resurrected He received a glorified body, a body that could live forever and be seated in heaven. This glorified body made it possible for Jesus to function as our high priest in heaven.

Jesus said, "I  am the resurrection and the life." That is two things, we have become accustomed to thinking of resurrection as totally in the far off future. Because of that, we miss out on the life of Jesus now. We have been raised with Jesus. We who were dead in sin, He has quickened and raised up (Ephesians 2:1-6). We have been quickened and raised, NOW, right here on the earth by resurrection power, the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead, has raised you from the dead, if you are in Him. By sharing resurrection power with us, God has provided for Jesus, body number three. It is called the church. This body is intended by God the Father to function here on the earth, so that He can be in the midst of the people. The church is not built of bricks, but of lively stones. The church is the people of God, filled with resurrection power, living out the life of Christ on the earth. This third body, the church, is not perishable, it is indestructible because it's life is hid in Christ. Colossians 3:3. No foe shall overcome it. It is united by one King, and alive because His blood circulates through it.

The good news of the gospel is not just that Jesus died, but it is that He arose. HE IS NOT AMONG THE DEAD, HE LIVES. God prepared for Him a human body, a glorified body and an earthly body, that is made alive by resurrection power. We as members of that body need to know four things about resurrection power.

   1.Resurrection power, calls us from the damp, dark grave of sin into newness of life. We have recreated spirits, if we are born again. Born again means that we are alive unto God and dead unto sin. The door to our tomb has been opened. The life of God flowed into our tomb, made us alive and opened the door from the dark place into light. We are instructed as the body to carry the message to others, we are to tell others.....My name is Lazarus and I live.

2. Resurrection power heals our bodies and will keep us well. The same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead, quickens our MORTAL BODIES. Go and tell, that He is the healer of all our dis-ease, physical, emotional, mental, financial.

3. Resurrection power has taken the sting from death. Because He lives, you shall live also. Go tell others that He is alive.

4. One day in not to far in the distant future. Perhaps on another lovely spring morning. The tombs will open and the seas will give up their righteous dead. AND THE ANGELS WILL SAY OF US, THEY ARE NOT HERE, THEY ARE RISEN.

The good news of Easter morning is that Jesus is not in the place of the dead, and neither are we. As He is alive, so shall we be.

Acts 20:32 "And now, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."