The Stone is Rolled Away Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
John didn’t go in, he just stood at the entrance (perhaps afraid that when he went in Jesus would still be there).
Peter though, once he made it to the tomb, went in without hesitation; he had to go in, he had to see for himself.
And when Peter walked inside, he saw the strips of linen, and the burial clothes that had been around Jesus’ head, folded and laying on the stone slab.
Peter’s heart was racing, and tears of joy were flowing, "HE’S ALIVE! JESUS IS ALIVE!!!"
And somewhere, but we don’t know where maybe on the shoreline overlooking the Jordan.
But the important thing is not where it happened, but that it did happen.
Paul even makes a point of telling us in I Corinthians 15, that Jesus appeared to Peter and then to the twelve."
The Bible doesn’t give us any details of that meeting.
It doesn’t tell us what Peter said.
I for one don’t think Peter said much of anything.
I picture Peter alone, sitting with his head down.
Peter like many of us, had set such high standards for himself.
He said, "EVEN THOUGH EVERYONE ELSE MAY LEAVE YOU JESUS, NOT ME, I’LL NEVER DO THAT, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME."
Peter had set high standards for himself, standards that he could never have lived up to; he was just a man.
And because he couldn’t forgive himself, he couldn’t believe that Jesus could forgive him either.
"Not after what I have done. I went too far. I don’t deserve your forgiveness, Jesus. While you were being beaten and crucified, I denied I ever knew you. I was only thinking of myself and not you..."
And then, Peter felt a hand on his shoulder, and he looked at the hand and he saw that it had been pierced; his heart stopped beating and as he turned he fell to his knees, and he heard the voice of the one he loved more than life itself say, "PETER.”
If you have ever been so overcome with emotion that you can’t talk, the tears just won’t stop, and the sobbing chokes off all words, that’s how I picture this meeting of Jesus with Peter.
The big strong fisherman was kneeling before Jesus, and his large hands were holding on to Him.
AS HE weeps intensely, I picture Jesus with his hand on Peter’s shoulder saying, "IT’S ALL RIGHT PETER, IT’S ALRIGHT, I KNOW, I KNOW, IT’S ALRIGHT NOW, I FORGIVE YOU PETER, PETER I FORGIVE YOU.”
The empty tomb means there is forgiveness.
The empty tomb means that our sins can be washed away.
The empty tomb means that Jesus Christ has won the battle over death, sin and the grave.
That is what the gospel is, the good news of the forgiveness of sin.
The Lamb of God has come.
"He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds, we are healed." (Is. 53:5)
Healed from what?
From eternal punishment for our sins.
Who needs this forgiveness, which can only come about through the blood of Christ?
We all do!
"FOR EACH OF US HAS SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF WHAT GOD EXPECTS OF US."
How do we get this forgiveness?
Well, let’s listen to the words of the distraught fishermen, who became a dynamic disciple.
Let’s listen to Peter, who was given the privilege to preach the first great sermon of the New Testament, which brought three thousand to faith in Christ.
Peter told those in Jerusalem, and you can read about it in Acts chapter 2; he told those who were convicted of their sin and of their need of forgiveness, "REPENT AND BE IMMERSED EVERYONE OF YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS, FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND YOU WILL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT."
If we want the forgiveness that Christ won, we need to humble ourselves before Him and repent of our sins, and by faith receive Him as Savior.
Have you done this?
Have you been to Jesus for His cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?
What about Christians?
Do we ever need God’s forgiveness?
Do we ever need to be reminded of Christ’s cleansing power?
Do we ever fall short?
Do we ever sin against God?
Do we ever feel that we have gone too far and that Christ won’t forgive us this time?
Do we, like Peter, need to know that we can get a second chance?
Do we ever need to know that one, two, three even 7 x 70 failures doesn’t necessarily make us a flop?
Do we ever need to know that He still loves us and that He will forgive us?
But what do we do?
How can we know for sure?
Well, let’s listen to another person, who saw that empty tomb on that first Easter Sunday, and who is also fully convinced of its power.
Let’s hear from the apostle John, another fisherman; let’s hear what he said to Christians in the 1st century.
“But if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins. If we claim we have not sinned, we are lying and calling God a liar, for he says we have sinned. (1 John 1:7-10 (Living)
When Christians need forgiveness and they will because we will all sin again; He or she must confess their sin before God.
And when we humbly come before Him, confessing our sin in true repentance (And remember God can read our hearts so He knows if we mean it our not), then, and only then, is there forgiveness
THE EMPTY TOMB MEANS JESUS IS ALIVE, and it means WHAT JESUS SAID IS TRUE!!
AND IT MEANS THAT THERE IS FORGIVENESS; IT MEANS GOD’S GRACE IS GREATER THAN OUR SIN.
The third point is, THE EMPTY TOMB ALSO MEANS THAT WE CAN HAVE A NEW LIFE.
Jesus died to give us new life.
When the apostles were in jail in Jerusalem, an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and told them, "GO STAND IN THE TEMPLE COURTS AND TELL THE PEOPLE THE FULL MESSAGE OF THIS NEW LIFE."
What is this new life?
Why is it new and what is it about?
I want to talk briefly about the benefits of this new life.
Once again, let’s let our fisherman, let’s let Peter teach us something: he said in 1 Peter 1:3(Living), “All honor to God, the God, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God's own family. Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead.
THIS VERSE TEACHES US ABOUT SOME OF THE BENEFITS THAT COME TO THOSE WHO ARE IN THE FAMILY OF GOD:
1. WE ARE BORN AGAIN; NOT UNDER THE LAW (WHICH SAID YOU HAD TO DO SOMETHING TO BE SOMETHING), BUT UNDER GRACE WHICH SAYS YOU ARE SOMETHING.
WE ARE FREE FROM WHAT PETER DESCRIBES AS THE EMPTY WAY OF LIFE in which WE ONCE LIVED (A LIFE WHERE WE WERE LEFT EMPTY AND NEVER WERE REALLY GOOD ENOUGH).
2. WE HAVE A LIVING HOPE.
THE HOPE OF THE NEW LIFE IS ABUNDANT LIVING; NOT LIKE THE HOPES OF THE OLD LIFE WHICH DISAPPOINT AND DIE.
Life is more pleasant when you have something to look forward to.
Unbelievable as it might seem, it is possible to live 70 days without food.
It is also possible to exist for nearly 10 days without water.
And one can live up to 6 minutes without air.
But there is one thing impossible to live without; that’s hope.
The empty tomb means that there is hope!
There is more to this life than this life!
It the midst of life’s rain we know that the sun will shine again.
As Christians, we know that we are headed to a better place, a perfect home, where there will be no more pain, suffering, heartache, death, and disease.
3. WE HAVE AN INHERITANCE.
HAVE YOU EVER DREAMED ABOUT SOME RICH, LONG LOST RELATIVE DYING AND LEAVING YOU GREAT RICHES, AS AN INHERITANCE?
WE ALREADY HAVE A RICH INHERITANCE, ONE THAT WILL NEVER PERISH, SPOIL OR FADE AWAY.
AND IT IS KEPT IN HEAVEN FOR US.
4. WE ARE SHIELDED BY GOD’S POWER.
HE IS ON OUR SIDE.
5. IN THIS NEW LIFE, WE CAN KNOW THAT THERE IS A REASON BEHIND THE TRIALS WE SUFFER.
The reason is, "SO THAT OUR FAITH MAY BE PROVED GENUINE AND MAY RESULT IN PRAISE GLORY AND HONOR WHEN JESUS CHRIST IS REVEALED."
6. WE HAVE AN INEXPRESSIBLE JOY, A JOY THAT WORDS CAN’T DESCRIBE, BECAUSE OF JESUS.
7. AND THIS IS THE GREATEST BENEFIT OF ALL, THE SALVATION OF OUR SOULS!!!!!!!!!!!
NEW BIRTH -- LIVING HOPE -- AN INHERITANCE -- SHIELDED BY GOD’S POWER -- REASON FOR TRIALS -- INEXPRESSIBLE AND GLORIOUS JOY -- AND THE SALVATION OF OUR SOULS....
This new life sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
I mean, who really wouldn’t want this?
MAYBE WHEN YOU GOT UP THIS MORNING, LIKE THE TWO MARYS, YOU WERE JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF LIVING; DARK SHADOWS MARKED YOUR PATH, YOU HAD LITTLE PASSION AND LESS HOPE.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO HOME THE SAME WAY.
THE STONE IS ROLLED AWAY.
THE TOMB IS STILL EMPTY; LOOK INSIDE, JESUS IS NOT THERE.
JESUS IS ALIVE.
WHAT HE SAID IS TRUE.
WE CAN HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, JOY, PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING AND A LIVING HOPE THAT WILL NEVER FADE OR DIM.
DO YOU NEED HOPE TODAY?
DO YOU NEED SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN?
THEN LOOK INTO THE TOMB, AND HEAD DOWN THE PATH THAT LEADS TO JESUS.
THE EMPTY TOMB ALSO MEANS THAT WE CAN HAVE FORGIVENESS FROM OUR SINS.
WE GET A SECOND CHANCE IF WE WANT ONE.
DO YOU NEED ONE?
DO YOU WANT ONE?
THEN HUMBLY FALL AT THE FEET OF THE GREAT FORGIVER.
AND THE EMPTY TOMB MEANS THAT A NEW LIFE IS AVAILABLE, A LIFE THAT IS TRULY ALIVE; A LIFE THAT FAR EXCEEDS THE EMPTY WAY, OF A LIFE THAT IS WITHOUT GOD.
CHRISTIANS AND NON-CHRISTIANS, DON’T LET ANOTHER EASTER COME AND GO, WITHOUT LOOKING INTO THE TOMB, SEEING JESUS, BEHOLDING THE LAMB, FINDING FORGIVENESS AND TAKING HOLD OF THE NEW LIFE THAT JESUS HAS CALLED US TO LIVE.
CHRIST FOUGHT AND WON THE BATTLE TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND LIFE.
HE DIED FOR YOU.