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A Tomb - Now What?

Now What?

Matthew 27:57-60; I Corinthians 15:1-4

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Introduction

The crucifixion ended with a final gasp: “Into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Now what? Jesus was dead. There was no need for the crowds to taunt Him anymore. No need for the disciples to wonder if something amazing was going to happen and the angels would come to deliver Him. He was dead. Now what? It is now that all of us, like the disciples, enter into periods of time when life is uncertain. What is going to happen? What are we supposed to do? Where is God, and what is He doing? In this message we look at the “now what” of life and examine those three days in the tomb.

  1. At the Tomb His Death is Validated

    Some people say that He just swooned, and in the cool of the tomb He came back to life. No, it was clear to everyone who was there attending, who were experts in assessing life and death, that the natural process had taken place and Jesus was dead. The disciples would have done anything to have kept Him alive. Those who had brought death to Him on the cross would not in any way shortcut the process. The three days in the tomb made sure the world would know that this is no gimmick, no game. The tomb validates His death.

    Death is always a shocking, difficult, and dreaded reality among human beings. The finality of death always seems to stun us, but in this case it was an important fact so that everyone would know that He died. But while He died it was also a great opportunity for the disciples to validate care for Jesus. We should see here something about the wonderful respect for the human body that the Scripture upholds. While much of the world today still practices cremation as the final act toward the human body, the Christian and Judeo practice has been to treat the body even in death with respect, care, and even gentleness. I am not saying that it is sinful or evil to have cremation, but through burial we can show respect and celebrate the temple of God, the body, where the person resided.

  2. At the Tomb His Work is Investigated

    In I Peter 3:18-20 is a wonderful picture that is difficult to understand fully. Where was Jesus, and what was He doing when He was in the tomb? According to Peter, He was not only just in the tomb. He was active and involved, doing what He had done throughout His life and, in fact, throughout His entire existence. While in our Baptist churches we do not practice saying or reading the Apostles’ Creed, this affirmation that years ago people began to repeat says, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried…” Then the next phrase is one that is not often repeated today in many churches, but sometimes it is eye opening to us when it says, “…he descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again” (Modern English Version, www.creeds.net/ancient/apostles.htm).

    Jesus went somewhere into the region of the departed. Many believe that Peter was talking about those people who lived before the flood and that Jesus went to them to give them the opportunity to believe. On the cross He said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Our sin debt was paid in full. What He came here to do He provided for every man of every age. How interesting it is to see that we can investigate what He was doing during the three days, and He was doing what He has always practiced.

  3. At the Tomb Faith is Activated

    Think about it— three days of nothing. What do we do when we pray and nothing seems to happen? We trust God, and it does not seem to work. What happens to our faith when nothing visible is happening? We, like all of mankind, like immediate results, instant gratification, and a quick response from God. Three days with an unmoved stone and no voice from heaven, and they, like we, got anxious, uneasy, and wondered where God was.

    1. Remember God loves you when nothing is seen. Do not let Satan rob you or convince you otherwise. God loves you regardless of what the circumstances are around you.
    2. God is at work even when He is not visible. Many, many times we look for God and do not see Him, and yet He is so aware, sensitive, and involved even though we do not see His hand at the moment.
    3. Always remember that God can do what you think He cannot do. While the silence at the tomb can cause you to worry and even misunderstand, God may be on the verge of doing something awesome. The greatest thing that He would ever do was to bring His Son from death to life forevermore, and it was about to happen. Keep your eyes open, your heart alert, and see God do what only He can do.

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer, MBCB