May 12, 2010, 11:06 AM
“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. and behold there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it. His countenance was like lighting, and his cloth as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women. ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.“He is not here; for he is risen as he said. Come; see the place where the lord lay, and go quickly and tell his disciples that He is risen from the death, and indeed he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you’’.So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold Jesus met them, saying ’’Rejoice’’ so they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid .Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me’’. Matthew 28. 1-10
The story of Easter talks of victory over death. At Easter death was defeated at last and man’s hope of eternal life was practically demonstrated and affirmed.
In my message during last year’s Easter I dwelt more on the trial of Christ and the lesson learnt. But this year I would want to emphasis on what Apostle Paul refers to in Philippians 3:10. As “the power of His resurrection”
That early Easter morning the women went out to anoint the tomb as the custom was in that part of the world in those days. But rather what they met was an empty tomb. The Jewish tomb then was constructed like a cave hewn out of Rock or in some other cases they were built with rocks and stones.
The entrance is covered with a big boulder stone that will require the man power of at least five strong men to roll it over to the entrance. Inside the cave like Tomb is an elevated platform made with stone in the form of a bed. There the dead after been embalmed are laid on the tomb. Each family is expected to have their own Tomb where their dead will be laid. For an old tomb, skeletal bones of their great grandfather could be found lying besides that of his children even up to the fourth generation. Hence the phrase often found in the book of Kings that says thus “……and he slept with his fathers……’’
In the case of Christ the town of Joseph of ArImathea who himself have become a convert, was a new Tomb. Joseph of ArImathea was going to be the first to be buried there. He however offered it for the use of the savior Jesus Christ. He probably was not too sure Christ bones will remain there to await his own demise and he would have wanted to be buried in the same Tomb, but what a glorious thing it could have been to lie down side by side in the same tomb forever with that magnificent being, the Immaculate Emmanuel, the Savior of the world. But it never did happen, Christ has risen! His prophesies have come through. His own predictions concerning His death burial and resurrection is herewith fulfilled.
How did it happen, with military personnel on guard at the tomb to prevent a situation whereby the disciples could come in the night to take Him away. How with the big boulder rock rolled over his tomb. How with His body cold death for over three days and three nights and with Satan and his cohorts rejoicing that at last the Holy one is gone forever.But, yes, He has risen!Christ has risen from the death. The truth is that God by the power of the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the death. The entire Trinity worked hand in glove for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the death.
THE REALITY OF HIS DEATH
And Jesus cried out with a loud voice and yield up His spirit. Now when the evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rocks; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. On the next day which followed the day of the preparation, the chief priest and the Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir we remembered when he was still, alive, how that deceiver said after three days I will rise, Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, He has risen from the death so the last deception will be worse than the first’’. Pilate said to them, “You have a guard, go away, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. Matthew27; 50, 57-66
Some have argued that Christ did not taste death due to His Divinity and could not have need for resurrection. We however base our points from our authority of the Holy Scripture as quoted above in Matthew 27; 50-57-66. There it clearly shows that Christ died physically and was laid in a tomb. The gospel of mark also reported the final hour of Christ Mark 15: 37. Luke and John’s gospels in their report did mention the moment of his death and burial. Luke 23:46,50-53; John 19:31-33
Apostle Paul and other writers of the Epistle never fail to mention the reality of the physical death of Christ. The reality of his death is the anchor of the Christian faith. The eternal salvation of mankind is made possible through His death.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that he died, he dies to sin once for all; but the life that he lives, He lives to God. Romans 6: 8 – 10
IT IS FINISH
This is the sixth statement of Jesus on the cross. ‘It was finished with a result that continues forever ‘’
Dr. Wilmington in his book Wilmington’s guide to the bible, he puts it in this way, “There are three important places where the scripture employ this words ‘’finish’’. It is used in Genesis 2:1 referring to the creation of Gods works. It is used here in John 19:30, referring to salvation of His works. It is used in revelation 10:7 and 16:17, referring to the completion of His work.”
The works of redemption have been completely complete. The result of His death shall have effects from then on to eternity. Anyone can obtain eternal salvation by simply placing his/her faith on Jesus Christ as savior. Christ is much more than a prophet. He is the savior of the world. He alone has the power to forgive sins. Your sins will not only be forgiven but your record in heaven shall be completely cleanest of sins and instead divine righteousness will be imputed in your account. All these are made possible upon your acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior. This is what his death does. This is why we celebrate Easter. Salvation has been made possible through the cross and is hereby free of charge. You cannot do enough righteous deeds to earn your salvation. Jesus death has provided it once and for all.
DIVINE OMMPOTENCE AT WORK
If death the most fared foe of man can be defeated by God, then there is nothing more to be afraid of. The fact remains that the believer do not only look forward to life after death, but the believer in the lord Jesus Christ can look forward to a glorious resurrection. A resurrection during which, the mortal will put on immortality. The believer will be clothed with a new body that will never again be subjected to death. The resurrection of Christ should help us to know that the often threat these days of Satan and his cohorts to end this our present life through death, if carried out as the case was in some part of the world is not the end of the believer. It is rather the beginning of a new and glorious life, the eternal life which defines the very mission of Christ on earth.
I shall gladly end this Easter message by including quotable notes from Bob Hoekstra in his daily devotional.
The Resurrection Essential to the Gospel of Grace
And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain . . . And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins . . . But now Christ is risen from the dead.
(1 Corinthians 15:14,17,20)
“The early church persistently proclaimed the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not an option for them; neither is it an option for us. The grace of God that is available in the gospel for both justification and sanctification requires a risen Lord. The resurrection is essential to the gospel, which is the new covenant of grace.
The Spirit of God emphasized this strongly, as He inspired Paul to write: “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain.” If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, our preaching would be empty. If Christ were still in a tomb, His salvation mission ended in failure, not victory. Jesus is the object of our faith. If He is not alive, our trusting in Him would be fruitless. Jesus frequently taught of His death and resurrection. “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Luke 9:22).
Furthermore, Paul wrote: “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” The gospel of forgiveness of sins includes the resurrection. “I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4). Faith is only as effective as its object. If our Lord is not resurrected, it is useless to place our confidence in Him. If we are trusting in a dead Savior to forgive us and set us free, we are still guilty and bound.
However, our Lord is not in an ancient tomb. “But now Christ is risen from the dead.” He rose victorious over sin and death, bringing everlasting righteousness to all who believe. “[faith] was accounted to [Abraham] for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us [i.e., credited to our account] who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:22-25). Thus, all of the grace blessings of the resurrection are ours by faith. “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace” (Romans 4:16).
More on the Resurrection and Sanctification
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
As we are getting to know our God of resurrection (by learning about and then partaking of His resurrection power, Christ’s sufferings, and conformity to His death), our lives are being changed. We are attaining to “the resurrection from the dead.”
This phrase brings to mind the final resurrection of the redeemed in the last day. The overall teaching of the scriptures would lead to this conclusion. One’s place in the final resurrection is determined by one’s relationship to God. That issue is settled through exercising saving faith in Jesus Christ. Those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior have a part in the last resurrection, unto eternal life.
Furthermore, the immediate context of Paul’s statement indicates that attaining to “the resurrection from the dead” was something he was reaching out for now, hoping to grow into it increasingly during this life. “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). Paul confesses that he had not fully gained the type of resurrection about which he is writing. Yet, the final resurrection was already his expectation, through justifying faith in Jesus. So, Paul is pressing on for something else.
Earlier, the Apostle had revealed what He was seeking after. “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ” (Philippians 3:8, 10). This is why Paul wrote, “that I may know Him.” This was the one passion of his life. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do” (Philippians 3:13). The one thing that Paul was aiming at was a growing acquaintanceship with his resurrected Lord. He desired to know His risen Lord so well that he might attain to “the resurrection from the dead.” He wanted his developing relationship with the risen Christ to produce a resurrected lifestyle in him. He wanted to face each situation of life with a heavenly, resurrected perspective and attitude, a way of life completely different from the dead and dying world all around him.”…BobHoekstra
Finally, may we use this moment to pray for our dearly beloved nation the Gambia and all other Countries who may be going through challenges of different dimensions at this time in history that God in his infinite mercies will grant us all, victory and success as Nations and lead us in the paths of progress, integrityand prosperity. Amen
Our Prayers also goes to His Excellence, The Commander in Chief and President of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia. Shelk, Prof. Alhaji, Dr. Yahaya, A. J. J. JAMMEH . BABLI MANSA, that God Almighty will continue to guide him with Wisdom and Knowledge as he pilots the affairs of this great Nation.
And now I say by God’s grace that as you celebrate this year’s Easter my prayers to God for you is that God Almighty will grant you the blessings of Easter which includes salvation, deliverance, Healing, Prosperity and financial Breakthroughs and Peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen. Happy Easter Celebration!