Last Updated on :
Saturday, November 22, 2014


sp spacer


The Grave Without A Body


[*** At one time,] Every year thousands of Russians and communists of other nations file past the tomb of Leninto pay homage at the last resting place of the man to whom they owe their greatness. In Egypt great pyramids rise above the sands and house the elaborate and well-concealed rooms of the dead in which the mighty kings and queens of departed glory sleep. In Britain the ancient abbeys and cathedrals, the old churches of the land and many another spot mark where the famous dead are honoured at their burial place. One poet, when he had walked around Westminster Abbey, penned the following warning:

Mortality, behold and fear,
What a change of flesh is here!
Think how many royal bones
Sleep within these heaps of stones;
Here they lie, had realms and lands,
Who now want strength to stir their hands,
Where from their pulpits seal'd with dust
They preach, 'in greatness is no trust.'
Here's an acre sown indeed
With the richest royallest seed
That the earth did e'er suck in
Since the first man died for sin:
Here the bones of birth have cried
'Though gods they were, as men they died!'
Here the sands, ignoble things,
Dropt from the ruin'd sides of kings:
Here's a world of pomp and state
Buried in dust, once dead by fate.

And so it is the world over. In your country, wherever you live, there is some remembered grave at which men pay their tribute in honoured memory of the dead.

But with Jesus Christ it is different. No one can go to his grave and say, "So, here He lies." There is no grave which holds the body of Jesus. The center of the hope of those who follow Jesus is an empty tomb. All is unique so far as Christ is concerned: His wonderful birth, His holy and wholly righteous life, His victorious death and His empty grave. Listen to the words spoken to those who came to the grave in hope of adding some lost touch to the embalming:

"Very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? and when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified, he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him." (Mark 16:3-6).

The truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ downed only very slowly on those first disciples. Even those who experienced the examination of the empty grave where Christ had lain were amazingly reluctant to believe that He was alive again. Only after repeated assurance in which they saw Him, talked to Him, ate a meal with Him, handled Him, did the glorious fact begin to make its impact upon them,

"The Lord is risen indeed." [Luke 24:34].

Let us get the facts straight. This was no fantasy. Christ had truly risen. The body which had entered the grave had been raised from the dead by God. It was not another body: it was the same body. Jesus was at pains to dispel the idea that the disciples were seeing some kind of phantom:

"Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24:38-39).

But, even so, Jesus would never again go back into the grave. His resurrection from the dead by God the Father was with the express purpose of giving him everlasting life, immortality:

'Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more." (Romans 6:9).

"(God) raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption." (Acts 13:34).

"'I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore." (Revelation 1:18).

He is freed from the chains of death: no longer does He suffer temptation or pain. He has entered the glorious liberty and everlasting happiness of immortality.

This then is the center of the hope in Jesus Christ. We do not remember a dead Christ -- though He did die -- but a living One who can hear us as we pray, and can bless us with His personal comfort and guidance in everyday living.

Let us now look a little more closely at this matter. There is much more to it than meets the eye at first glance. Wonderful though it is that Jesus has come forth from the grave, it is equally wonderful to know why.

"Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God." (Romans 6:9-10).

"Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible that he should be holden of it." [Acts 2:24].

"Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:10).

"If we believe an him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our trespasses, and raised again for our justification." (Rom. 4:24- 25).

The victory which Jesus achieved in His lifetime by conquering sin completely and utterly, has been acknowledged by God in raising Jesus from the dead. If we can think of the process by which death came into the world -

"By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin" (Romans 5:12).

we can better understand how that Jesus took away sin and made possible the abolition of death. Although He died in obedience to His Father and to make plain His supremacy over sin, we must understand that He was not worthy of death. Jesus was no sinner. For that reason God sealed his righteousness by life, opening the gates of death and bringing forth His Son unto eternal life.

This is the great break through. Until Jesus accomplished this work there was no way whereby the inexorable law of sin and death could be broken. In Jesus there is hope. His righteousness and His resurrection are God's gift to us. If we can see the beauty of the righteousness of Jesus, if we can in some measure appreciate the depth of His love in willingly offering Himself to gain the great freedom, then we can have hope.

We can share these things. Not because we ourselves are righteous - else would there have been no need for Christ to die -- but because God loved us. He has given us the opportunity of confessing our weakness, our need of forgiveness, and has revealed his own righteousness in Jesus for us to desire and to love. If we confess our bondage in Adam and our own sins, and desire with all our heart to be free in Christ, seeking God's righteousness in Him, then God is willing to receive us.

"Christ died for the ungodly." [Romans 5:6].

"God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8).

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus!" (Romans 3:23-24).

The empty grave of Jesus is the doorway to everlasting life. His Cross is the death of our sins, if we make confession, and His resurrection is our hope.

Now read for yourself -- Romans chapter 5.

[*** Obviously this was written before the fall of communism in the USSR. ed]

Questions on Letter 13 (answers)

1. How did Jesus bring life and immortality to light?

2. How did God acknowledge Jesus' victory over sin?

3. How did Jesus break the law of sin and death?