January 15th, 2021

Message of the empty tomb

By Submitted Article on April 11, 2020.

Lifted up

Last of four parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

The psalms came true for Christ: “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Ps. 16:10). “He redeems my life from the pit” (Ps. 103:4). He was lifted up from the tomb.

His old body changed to a new body within the linen wrappings; he started to breathe, sat up, moved out of the linen and the grave, leaving the wrappings like a cocoon behind, and the stone at the entrance still in place.

An angel descended and rolled the stone away, so his friends could come in and see for themselves.

In his new body, he appeared and disappeared at will, sometimes recognizable and sometimes not. He came in when the door was locked, yet he ate food in the presence of his disciples, and allowed them to touch him.

His victory over sin and death now became evident. His triumph on the cross was a victory in disguise. In his new body, his victory became abundantly clear to his followers. Paul had contact with the apostles and gave a list of Christ’s appearances after his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-8).

The resurrection was front and center in the early church. That proved to them that he was not only the Son of Man but also the Son of God (John 3:15-16).

Being crucified did not make Christ unique – the Romans crucified many, two with Jesus, one on either side. He bore the sins of humanity on the cross – that made his cross unique and infinitely horrible.

The two crucified with him did not rise from death, nor any other. Christ’s raising from death verified his uniqueness as incarnated Son of God.

That is why the early church stressed that he not only died for our sins but also rose from death to proclaim his victory, even to the souls in Hades (Acts 2:29-34, 3:13-15, 4:9-12, 5:29-32, Pet. 3:18-20).

Forty days after the crucifixion, Christ was lifted up to the throne of God. While he blessed his followers, he ascended. Angels told the disciples that Jesus would return in the same way he left, coming on clouds and landing on the Olive Mountain (Matt. 24:30, Zech. 14:3-4). Until then, believers must lift Jesus up to the world as the Saviour of sinners.

Ten days after Jesus was lifted up into heaven, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in believers, filling them with love to serve and power to testify (Gal. 5:22, Rom. 5:5, Acts 1:8).

In the book of Acts, Luke shows how the gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire, until Paul brought it to Rome by epistle and in person.

Today, everyone can read and hear the gospel everywhere by mass and social media.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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