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The Temple of the Tomb (updated)

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The Temple of the Tomb

Intro
Luke 24:1–12 ESV
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
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ESV
pray
ESV
You ever have one of those days? You know the days. Those days when absolutely nothing seems to go right. It's like the whole regular order of the world is all out of whack! Like we are out of sync with reality.
[slidepic] You ever have one of those days? You know the days. Those days when absolutely nothing seems to go right. It's like the whole regular order of the world is all out of whack! Like we are out of sync with reality.
Those days when you drive to work, and just barely miss hitting someone running out into the road. And while you were recovering from that little scare you get shocked awake by the honks of the person behind you, waiting for you to notice the light turned green at least a second or two ago.
Then you get to work, ready for another long week. You turn off the car and get out, being sure to lock the door with the little switch on the arm rest. And then, as you turn to head inside, a panic strikes you. “Where are my keys?” You pat your pockets, maybe you look through your purse, ladies, and sure enough, they aren’t there.
Just one of those days, right? You can feel that frustration boil up in your chest, and you put your hands to your mouth to scream, and what do you know?
There are your keys. In your hand. Right where you left them.
That happens all the time, doesn’t it? We think we lose something, and then we turn the house upside down, we dig holes, we do everything except set fire to our house to find that thing we lost, only to realize they were right where we last remembered leaving them. Or for glasses, right on top of our heads.
There can be frustration when things aren’t where we put them, right? We want things to be orderly, just like we left them. At the very least, we want to control our surroundings, even our faith, so that we know what is what, and where everything is.
[picture of women at tomb]
It is no different for the women in our text today. You see, when they last saw Jesus, the one in whom they had placed their complete trust, their entire confidence, every portion of their souls and lives - when they last saw Him, they were taking His lifeless body from the cross to this tomb.
This was to be His final resting place. The marker of all that He was on this earth.
I am struck, every Easter, by the similarity this has with us. We still commemorate the lives of those we love with markers of their final resting places. For those very important figures in history, we may even erect a monument, or perhaps a plague. And those markers, or memorials, they become sacred don’t they?
If you have ever been to Washington DC you have a real sense of that. The reverence at the Vietnam memorial wall, or Lincoln’s monument, or the overwhelming solemnity of Arlington National Cemetery can be tangible.
[picofarlington]
I remember going to Washington while I was in the military. We went to visit all those places, but the one I remember most vividly is Arlington. As far as the eye could see, church, stood these perfectly white symbols of those who died for us. Who modeled that great love Christ calls us to. They stand there almost as if they are still in formation, still standing watch over this land we love so dearly.
As I stood there, in the midst of the overwhelming cost of my life, I was overcome by a feeling of gratitude, and awe, and reverence. It was a deep emotion, unlike any I had really felt before. It was primal. It hurt. It inspired.
It was sacred.
You see, there in that place, I found peace in pain. I found reverence in the blades of green grass set against the pure white stones that dotted the hillsides. It became to me, in that moment, a temple of sorts.
You see, temples aren’t just temples. If you read the story of our Christ laid out in the Gospels you can say with certainty that wherever Jesus found Himself, a temple was maid! The people following became the first church of the lake, or of Olivet; wherever they found Jesus, there church was held and a makeshift temple was made!
You see, temples aren’t just temples. If you read the story of our Christ laid out in the Gospels you can say with certainty that wherever Jesus found Himself, a temple was maid! The people following became the first church of the lake, or of Olivet; wherever they found Jesus, there church was held and a makeshift temple was made!
We assign importance to things we know to have been in contact with, or used by, or even touched by our Savior. We make a temple out of it. We make it into a worshipful moment, a commemoration of the one who died for our freedom.
That was this tomb for these women. And honestly, that is why they were going there. Deep in grief and mourning, there is no where else they could turn for comfort. No where else they could go to feel the presence of their God. So in the deep darkness of their lives, and that day, they got together to go to their temple for comfort.
[picture of church of the sepulcher]
Even today, people come there, to what they think was the tomb. A church was even build on one of those sites, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. And people go there, every single day, in the hopes of experiencing Jesus in some tangible way. They even strain themselves for just a moment, just the small chance of even touching what MIGHT be some stone that COULD have touched the flesh of Christ.
They have come to the tomb in the hopes of finding something Holy. In the hopes of finding closure, or comfort. Maybe even in the hopes of finding a miracle.
That is why they have come.
But church, why have we come? Why do we come to this place, or other temple’s in our lives? What are we looking for in those places, or in those moments?
I think we go to places like this, and to whatever temples we might have in our lives to feel something, something we are missing. Some piece of us that is gone, or we might never have if we just didn’t go there to see it.
They were grieving that life would never be the same.
[pic of temple]
That’s why we go to ours too, if we are being honest. We lack something, or at least we think we lack something, so we ascribe some extra reverence, some extra weight, to some things that don’t really need it!
Is God more present in that rock at the Church of the Sepulcher, whether it is real or not? Is God only in the National cemetery and not every other? Is God here in this place and any other? Of course not. But we, like these women, give this weight to these places because we are desperate to find Jesus, to find God, any way we can.
But the truth of the matter is this - these temples will always fall short. Our temples are just markers for the real temple that Christ tried to prepare for us all; the temple of faith.
You see, that is the real temple of this life. Not those other things we make into temples. I mean, at the end of the day, when we go to those temples that we make up in our hearts, and even some in the physical world, if we could just open the doors to them, if we could pull back the curtain of this reality to see what lies behind those things that we give so much reverence and power to, we would find them empty! And church, that is just what these women find in that tomb! There is nothing there! It is barren!
The temple that is this tomb, and whatever tombs we have in our lives, is empty.
[verse 5]
Luke 24:5 ESV
And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
And there, as we look into those tombs and see that they are empty, we hear the truth! Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Why do you look for life - a life promised by your Savior - only here in this place! Only in those tombs. Only in those sacred spaces.
And there, as we look into those tombs and see that they are empty, we hear the truth! Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Why do you look for life - a life promised by your Savior - only here in this place! Only in those tombs. Only in those sacred spaces.
Church, the very real, and very overwhelming truth for us is the same as it was for those women in our text! We don’t find our life in those empty tombs! We don’t find the living among the dead!
You see, church - HE IS RISEN! HE ISN’T THERE!
THAT TOMB IS EMPTY! IT HAS BEEN ROBBED OF ITS POWER! THERE IS NOTHING THERE WORTH SEEING! IN SPITE OF ALL THAT WE KNOW, AND THEY KNEW, TO BE TRUE, CHRIST WASN’T THERE! NO BODY, NO DECAY, NO DEATH, ONLY THE MESSENGERS THAT POINT US TOWARD THE RISEN SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!
In spite of all the odds, and all that logic tells us, He isn’t there. He rises, and conquers all the power of this world.
In spite of all the lashes, still He rises. The crown of thorns may have mocked Him and blurred His vision with blood, but still He rises! Step by step His beaten and battered body gives way to death, but still He rises! He hangs on that tree, surrounded by people who mock Him, and gives us forgiveness as He breathes His last breath, but still He rises!
In spite of the sin, in spite of the hurt, in spite of the impossibility of it all - still He rises! Through all the sins, through the death that humans bring into this world, through all the pain, through all the lostness and the broken lives, still He is alive!
HE LIVES, NOT TO PROVE THAT HE IS GOD, NO HE LIVES TO PROVE TO YOU THAT FORGIVENESS IS POSSIBLE! TO PROVE TO YOU THAT THE OUTCOME OF YOUR LIFE ISN’T DEATH! TO PROVE TO YOU THAT NO MATTER WHAT YOU CAN BRING TO THAT TOMB, IT WILL ALWAYS BE EMPTY! TO PROVE TO YOU THAT LOVE CAN BRING LIFE, EVEN LIFE AFTER DEATH! AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, CHURCH, TO PROVE TO YOU, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU AND EVERY SINGLE PERSON EVER CREATED, THAT YOU ARE WORTH EVERY SECOND OF IT ALL!
YOU ARE WORTH HIS LOVE, AND WORTH HIS SACRIFICE! YOU WERE WORTH EVERY SINGLE MOMENT!
Why else would He give His life for you?
1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
[newpic]
No church, there is no point in looking for the living in those tombs. No point in searching out the living among the dead. No point in wondering in whether or not Christ died for you! You see, He lives! He lives for you!
No church, there is no point in looking for the living in those tombs. No point in searching out the living among the dead. No point in wondering in whether or not Christ died for you! You see, He lives! He lives for you!
And because He lives, we live free from the bonds of death! Free from the chains that shackle us to the most basic human instincts! Free from the need to judge! Free from the desire to always serve ourselves! Free to take up the causes that Christ took up! Free to forgive! Free to give freely as we have been given! To give life! To give hope! To give freedom! To give healing! To give time! To give everything that we have, if only to then be able to understand the depths of the love that would give up everything for us!
Because he lives, we can face anything. Because He lives, there is no need to live for myself! Because He lives, all of the hate we have, all the hurt we have - all the jealousy and bitterness - it is all put to death by the resurrection! Because He lives, we can throw away everything that we know about ourselves, and replace it with the fact that His life, death, and resurrection remains a gift for you! Done for you! Done so that you might move beyond those things that bring death, and move toward the only one who brings life! And because He lives, church, you can not only face tomorrow, you can be changed and become the very thing someone else needs to be able to face tomorrow too!
Because He lives, there is no death. There is only life. Life here. Life in Heaven. Life lived for Christ. And He lives, church, so that we can have that life, a life that turns from our ways - from the death and emptiness of those tombs - and turns toward the life that Christ offers to us, and to this world.
[invitation]
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