AN EMPTY TOMB

It will be Easter Sunday in just a few days.  The biggest crowd of the year will gather for worship if this year is typical of other years.  People come out in large numbers, many wearing new dresses and suits just purchased this week.  Mulitudes of children will gather at grandparents, or in the park somewhere to look for eggs that have been placed mostly in plain view so that they will be easy to find.  Why do people celebrate Easter?

It isn’t something the Bible talks about.  The one instance where the word was found in the King James Version of the Bible it was a mistranslation and actually referred to the Passover.  Evidently it seemed to the King James translators back in 1611 that it was justifiable for them to change the words so that the word “Easter” could appear in the Bible since they were celebrating it as a holiday already.  Every newer translation has corrected the mistake.  It is never good for those who are commissioned to translate Scripture to instead change some things to make them fit what we are already doing.

Easter was launched as a means of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  Jesus’ resurrection is the single most important event in all of history.  It is the foundation of the church and of the gospel message.  When Paul described the basic elements of the gospel in I Corinthians 15:1-4 he said he had declared to them the gospel by which they were saved, in which they stood if they would keep in memory the teachings of the gospel.  How Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, how he was buried and how he was raised again from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures.  He goes on to declare that if one denies the resurrection of Christ from the dead his entire faith is based on nothing, he is still living in his sin and he has no hope in the world.  “If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

The resurrection is God’s greatest demonstration of His power available in our lives.  When Paul prayed in Ephesians 1 it was that they eyes of the church’s understanding might be enlightened so they could know the hope of their calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, “According to the working of His mighty power which he showed in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.”

Truthfully, every time a church gathers for worship on the first day of each week they are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.  Under the Old Covenant the special day of worship and devotion to God was Saturday or the Sabbath.  They were told to “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.”  But in the New Covenant, the church was established on the first day of the week and the church met on that day for worship and devotion to God (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Revelation 1:10).  Why did God have the church to meet on the first day of the week?  Because that was the day when Jesus was raised from the dead.  It was early on the first day of the week that the women came to the tomb of Jesus and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.  The very fact we gather on that day is a matter of celebrating His resurrection from the dead.

What then about celebrating Easter as a holiday based on His resurrection?  In Romans 14:5 Paul deals with the whole theme of conscience and getting along in areas where God hasn’t given legislation.  He said, “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike.  Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.  Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.”  He goes on to plead with the people not to judge one another but to leave the judgment to God whom they serve.  He tells them the kingdom of God is not about food and drink but about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit so we are all to pursue peace and things by which we can build up one another.

For one to use the celebration of Easter one time a year as a substitute for celebrating His resurrection every Lord’s Day or first day of the week would be a huge mistake.  Let’s be honest that most of the things done on this holiday aren’t about worshiping God or even celebrating the resurrection of Christ.  Most of the things planned and done on that day are about us and our kids and how we can have a good time.

Christ is risen from the grave, never to die again.  He lives today and reigns at the right hand of God.  Praise God for an empty tomb and risen Lord.  I would pray that God will use this day as a time when many attend church, some for the first timet his year and they hear the gospel or good news of Jesus and it changes their whole life. 

Never forget God can use anything, anywhere in a way that changes people from the inside out.  I hope you have a great Easter.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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