OUT OF THE GRAVE
FOR most of us, death is a vagabond who roams the streets of other peoples neighborhoods but not ours. Our address is not subject to its scrutiny for we feel we are invisible and become impervious to the fact that this visitor will someday knock on our doors. And so, life seems to be a never ending circle, an endless succession of days and nights filled with plans which when broken may come as a surprise if death happens suddenly. But we are not immune to deaths unwelcome appearance within our family, and it is indeed a sobering moment when it does come to our households.
THERE is something very final when a loved one is lowered into the grave. Even some of the followers of Jesus felt an element of surprise and disbelief when He died on the cross even though He told them many times He would die but that He would rise again. Most of us cannot get beyond the death knoll. We generally cannot envision or fathom anything beyond the fact that loved ones have left this earth, leaving us alone and lonely. This is the only life we can relate to as the eternity promised us seems obscure and uncertain many times. And so we stand in awe as the earth is shoveled on top of a casket. The overwhelming sadness that we will not look into the face of our loved ones again is shattering because death belongs to that newspaper story of calamity which descends upon others. We feel that we are exempt. Many times when a loved one dies we might even want to lay that grief aside and put as much distance between this reality as possible although we as Christians know that if we are in Gods Grace we will share eternity with our heavenly Father.
AND so, how is the grave a place of joy and most importantly life? What happiness can come out of the grave? The grave is a somber place. A quiet and thoughtful place for those left behind.. It seems an ending, a point of no return. We do not imagine the grave as being a place of promise. Nothing good cannot happen there. But years ago, after the crucifixion of Christ, Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Christ and Nicodemus came to claim the body of Jesus, bringing myrrh and aloes. They took the body, bound it in strips of linen with the spices and in a nearby garden laid it in a graveside, a tomb that was hewn out of rock, where no one had ever lain before. And from of the depths of that grave came eternal joy and immortality which would change the course of history forever.
FOR out of the cruel events rendered upon an innocent man two thousand years ago death was swallowed up in victory and triumphant mastery. From the grave we received life eternal because our Lord rose in glory as He promised. From this grave, we received salvation. From this grave Christ settled once and for all the price of our admission into Heaven. Most important, Christ was also showing us that we too, will rise as He did if we believe and trust in Him. From this grave, which could not hold the Son of God, came the supreme jubilation and happiness that we Christians share today. Because He rose from the depths of that grave, not only was He fulfilling His promise and what had been predicted but He was showing us that as He rose victoriously so shall we. His death and resurrection proclaimed that He keeps His promises, that He is the Son of the Living God. By His rising from the dead our ransom was paid in full, our immigration papers to Gods Heavenly Kingdom signed with His Blood, our admission ticket unless we cancel it stamped "good and valid" for all time.
AND so, Christ defeated Satan from the grave. Because of his triumph over death He gave us the pure happiness which even today is the most enduring joy we can experience in this life. Now if Christ was rose again as He promised He would, then so shall we. For the bible teaches us (1 Thess.4:14)there would be no resurrection for us if Christ had not risen from the dead. So this is great and wonderful news! And if this resurrection were not so, our faith would be futile. What good would it be? If Jesus taught that He would be raised up and He was, we know through trust we will be raised up also. This is the Good News. This is the joy we receive over and over and over again on the wonderful day of Easter that we celebrate. For out of the grave came the greatest victory known to man. Life eternal.
O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?(1Cor.15:55)
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