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Wrap Up 12.24.16

cross in cemetary John 1010

Moving from the empty manger waiting for Jesus’ arrival, to the empty air when Jesus spoke no words, we arrive at the cross.

After the crucifixion, Jesus’ body was taken from the cross and placed in a tomb nearby. The disciples, followers and family were stunned.

The only reminder of what had just happened stood on the hill at Golgotha – an empty cross.

Empty.

Wouldn’t it be hard to even look at it and wonder how all that just happened? Would we stand and doubt everything He had told us? Would we wonder if He really was the son of God, the promised one?

I have been to the foot of the hill of Golgotha twice, almost.

Today there is a bus terminal there with walls that keep visitors out. Just outside the gates of Jerusalem.

No one really knew what to do.

The cross was empty.

Jesus’ body was nearby in a sealed and guarded tomb. The government was afraid his disciples would steal the body and tell the believers He had risen.

The cross was still empty.

They had been witness to His last breath. He died like any other human would die. He suffocated, hanging by His arms, hands and feet nailed to the cross.

Yet, the cross was empty.

What they had believed in was gone. Can we even begin to understand how they felt? We are on this side of the story and know what happens next in the eternal story, but what is it that we are going to be asked to do in our future that will require us to live with a deep trust that the Jesus we have followed is truth even when we are in the middle of the story, not knowing the earthly end?

This Jesus left the cross.

He left it just like any of us would have – like the criminals hung on their crosses on either side of Him.

Dead.

A body without life, carried off by friends to the tombs to be prepared for burial. The empty cross represented to them a loss so deep. They could only mourn and go through the motions as they carried out the rituals of burial.

I wonder if there is something for us to learn? For me it is trust. Trust is immeasurably difficult for me. But I am beginning to understand that there might be a time coming when that is exactly what I will be called to do in ways I have never thought of before.

Trust when I can’t see the outcome and have no idea what just happened and certainly can’t know what stands between today and the end of the story.

What I do know is that the cross is empty.

He fulfilled the prophecy from the Old Testament, is at work today and will be there in the future that is anything but empty.

“Lord, be with us as we long to grow to a better understanding of who we are to You. Help us as we struggle to fill those empty places. Help our search lead us to You as You step in to fill that void. We love You Lord. Amen.”

 

 

I took this picture just outside the walls of Jerusalem at the site believed to have been the actual tomb where Jesus body was laid.

I took this picture just outside the walls of Jerusalem at the site believed to have been the actual tomb where Jesus body was laid.

 

The third day, the women went to the tomb, sad and preparing themselves mentally for the task ahead. Their savior lay there and they were the ones expected to prepare the body for burial. It’s hard for me to imagine the next scenario as they came close enough to realize the stone in front of the tomb was rolled open – and running as they entered – they realized the tomb was empty. Not only did they leave the empty cross three days ago, now they were standing in an empty tomb.

God did it again.

Empty.

I can only imagine their fragile hearts feeling empty and broken. Everything they had hoped in, everything they had believed in and the Jesus they had done everyday life with was gone – gone.

The tomb was empty.

Wouldn’t  we feel as though our entire world had collapsed? An emptiness of the greatest imaginable magnitude. But there was an angel sitting where the body had laid. He told them the only reason the tomb was empty was because Jesus had risen.

What???

Yet, the women believed because they saw and heard the angel speak with their own ears and eyes. The experience was very personal in them. They remembered Jesus telling them what was going to happen. He was preparing them. It was just so far beyond anything they could comprehend that they all but dismissed it as He was speaking. But it came back to them with the words of the angel.

They left, heading back to their friends. Can you imagine their emotions right now? From the deepest sadness they ever knew, yet the message they had just received wiped that away. The empty recesses of their heart and soul where the deep, deep heartache was taking up residence was soothed and comforted and that pain was but a temporary guest.

That’s why I speak so passionately about Jesus in my life. I have known that comfort personally. Jesus is so very real. There are many things in the scriptures that I don’t understand completely – yet – just as the women and disciples didn’t understand when Jesus told them what was going to happen – one day I will.  But one day we will all understand – the end of our time here has not yet come, but we have His promises to rely on.

What a comfort.

We will no longer experience the empty. God will use the empty in us just as He has shown us many ways He has used it in the past.

Don’t fear the empty – give it to God and watch what happens – allow it to become the beginning of a new chapter in your life.

In Jesus’ own words in Luke 24:46-47

 “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”   Amen

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