I remember as a little boy coming home from school with my friends. Can you guess what room I went to first when I arrived home? No, no, no. It was not my bed room nor the family room. It was the kitchen. I could always count on seeing my mom in the kitchen stirring a pot or putting something in the oven. The aroma of the food was always overwhelming. I could hardly wait to sit down for supper. I can hear my mother saying , “Fred , go wash up for supper.” Now the other side to my story is that of arriving home to see an empty kitchen and no aroma of food cooking. There were some days when mom had a cold or did not feel well. Although those times were few, they were always disappointing.
I am thinking about Russell Caves, empty kitchen. Just days before our Sunrise service and breakfast. No Chef in the kitchen stirring the pots. No one slicing onions and potatoes. No one staging the bacon and sausage. No one cracking the eggs. No one laying out the frozen biscuits on baking pans. No one staging the food chafers (warmers). No one setting the tables with beautiful and colorful table cloths and center pieces. No getting ready for Sundays’ Company. No getting ready for our Sunrise-Worship and Breakfast. On this Resurrection Sunday, April 12, 2020, the Kitchen and Fellowship Hall are empty, the Sanctuary is empty, and the parking lot is empty.
When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus on Resurrection morning, she saw an empty grave. Seeing an empty tomb, she was shocked and dismayed. She told Simon Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, they have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they have laid him. Mary stood at the tomb and cried. (John 20:1-11) The Bible tells us “They still did not understand from Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” (John 20:9) The empty tomb was all part of the Fathers plan for you. Although the Kitchen, Fellowship hall, Sanctuary, and parking lot are empty, we can still celebrate the the empty tomb. The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why Celebrate The Resurrection?
I. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a primary Bible Doctrine of the Christian Faith.
The Apostle Paul said “And if Christ has not be raised , our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Paul is saying, preachers are preaching a lie. They are making up stuff that sounds good, and there is no truth in it if Christ has not be raised from the dead. Paul is also asserting that those who sit in the pews, on the benches, in the chairs, around the campfires, in their homes listing to their preaching are without true faith if Christ has not been raised from the dead. Then Paul had to set the record straight. And Paul did so in verse 20, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” (I Corinthians 15:14, 20) His conclusion, what we are preaching is not a lie, it is Gods truth. In the book of I Corinthians, Paul talked a great deal about the resurrection of Christ. There were many whom Paul preached to who did not believe in the Resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of Christians from the dead. Just as there are many who do not believe in the resurrection of Christ today. Remember, the tomb was empty, however, the empty tomb was about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. There was no reason for Mary and the other followers of Jesus to be sad. Yes, they were sad for a short while until Jesus appeared to many witnesses as proof of his resurrection. John 20:9, the empty tomb was not a time of sadness because it was about the Resurrection for Christ.
II. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a central truth of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark , Luke and John. Why?
Because the disciples all believed in the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. They were clearly eye witnesses of the risen Lord. (Matthew 28:1-10) “Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, there they will see me.” It cannot be any clearer than that. They saw Jesus after He arose from the dead. Go tell somebody. Have you ever expressed your faith to someone who may have been a little skeptical about Christ? Tell somebody.
Here is what John the Apostle said, “That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched this we proclaim to you concerning the word of life.” (I John 1:1) Jesus was in the beginning. What beginning? The beginning that Genesis chapter one speaks about. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Jesus was present with the Father when they created this world and everything in it. John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” Jesus is called the Word in this text.
Look at how the Apostle John describes their relationship with the Lord. John described how the Lord appealed to their human senses to understand deep spiritual truths. We saw Him. We listened to Him. We looked into His eyes. We stared at Him. We even used our hands to touch Him. The Apostles could rejoice in the empty tomb because they were eye witnesses that Jesus was alive forever more. The empty tomb was not about sadness but about gladness. About victory over death and the grave. The empty tomb pushed the Apostles , Mary and others beyond the line of doubt into the glorious light of Christ Jesus.
III. The First Sermon Preached by the Apostle Peter to the Early Church was on the Resurrection Jesus (Acts 2)
Three thousand people responded to the message of Peter and were baptized. This was the beginning of the Church. The Lord had much more for His Apostles to do as we read in the book of Acts. The gospel message about the Resurrection of Jesus was preached by the Apostles and today is proclaimed by gospel preachers around the world. Peter also preached on the resurrection in chapters 4, 10 of Acts. Philip too, in the book of Acts, also preached about the resurrection of Jesus. Stephen, the first Christian to die for preaching the gospel, was preaching on the resurrection in Acts chapters 7,8) The Apostle Paul too preached about the resurrection in the book of Acts. But he did not stop there. He preached about the Resurrection of Christ in the books of : Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philippians, and 2 Timothy. Have you ever carried out a mission for the Lord Jesus? What are you doing with your resurrection knowledge? Tell someone about the risen Lord Jesus. How He died for our sins at Calvary. How he suffered and bled in humiliation before the people. His family was present and saw the pain and anguish of his suffering. His family watched him die and they could not stop his death. Tell somebody that Christ died for their sins too.
IV. The Resurrection is the very Foundation of our Hope.
Here is how the Apostle Paul put it. And he was very blunt about it. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4) Paul tells the Church at Corinth: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Many have placed their hope in their jobs, families, friends, buildings, possessions, money and more. Where are you with your thoughts about the real meaning of your life on this earth? Right now every household around the world now has plenty of time to think about what really matters in our life on this earth. Brave or fearful the events of these past three months have shaken the very core of who we are. There is hope in Christ Jesus. Just take a minute and look around you and look out at our world. We are all looking for hope beyond the Corona-virus Disease. People are dying by the thousands. This is a very frightening time in our world, especially if we were depending on what we have accumulated over the years to get us thru this terrible event. I have seen so many people praying. We all want Hope. “My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus blood and righteousness.”
Many have placed their hope in their jobs, families, friends, buildings, possessions, wealth and more. What do we do now Lord? Where are you with your thoughts about the real meaning of your life on this earth. Right now every household around the world has plenty of time to think about what really matters in our life on this earth. We are all looking for real Hope. There is Hope in Jesus Christ.
Paul calls God the God of Hope. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Well, there probably will be some sadness among our brothers and sister in Christ on this Resurrection Day. We see the empty fellowship halls, the empty church buildings and the empty parking lots. Maybe you are saying, ” I sure miss the “good old days.” Remember the empty tomb. The resurrection is not about sadness, the resurrection is about gladness in the Lord! The resurrection is about the hope that Jesus gives his followers.
Paul tells his audience, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4) Jesus tells us “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) Have you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior?