Joseph’s tomb is occupied. Within it, the body of Jesus of Nazareth lay. Death has laid hold of him. His color is changed. His limbs are stiff. His heart is still. His chest rises not. He’s cold and lifeless. He’s gone the way of all the world.
So much on the line. Death has grave repercussions. A soul is separated from a body. A person is gone. Universally, gone without return. And in their absence, things inevitably change. Death has ripple effects in the lives of those attached to the deceased. But this is different. It’s different in that, in Jesus’ death, the lives of ‘every man’ are on the line. What’s more, from what He said, the eternal state of ‘every man’ are on the line.
He said He came to die. He also said He came to bring about the death of Death. He said He came to rise immortal, incorruptible. And He said that, in doing so, He’d ransom a people for God. He’d save His people. He’d redeem sinners. Though they die, yet they too will live. All who believe in Him will never die, for, as He self-disclosed, He’s the Resurrection and the Life. We’re about to find out. As I said, Joseph’s tomb is occupied.
As we sit here today, the Saturday prior to Easter Sunday, 2020, having the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard perhaps to identify with Jesus’ disciples and their state of mind on that Saturday just after the crucifixion. They’d just witnessed the divine spectacle that was Christ crucified, only what they surmised was far more deflating than elating. They only felt the gore of it all, but none of it’s glory. And in large part, that’s because, to date, they hadn’t heard or understood what Jesus made plain: I came for this. I lived for this. And I shall live again from it too!
Without forfeiting the truth that we know (from their eyewitness testimony, by the way!), it’s good today to take some time and feel afresh what’s on the line in whether or not, come Sunday morn, Joseph’s tomb would have a vacancy. So as we’ll be studying John 20:24-29 tomorrow, here are some things from John’s Gospel for your meditative consideration. The hope is that as we come to hear, as Thomas, of Jesus’ resurrection, all these things packaged up within it will radiate all the more profoundly and joyously within us. So, at stake:
The deity of Jesus, 1:1
The exclusivity of Jesus as the Truth, Life, and Way to the Father, 14:6
The new temple of God. We call it the church, 2:21. Also, 4:23-24
The hope and success of Gospel missions, 4:34-38. Also, 17:20
The fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word, 5:39. Also, 19:17, 24, 28, 36-37
The fullness and veracity of the apostolic Word we call the New Testament, 16:13
The entire rationale for abiding in His Word, 8:31
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, 7:38. Also, 14:16-18, 16:7
The vindication of His life and work on the cross. Is it really finished? 10:17
The entire rationale for believing in Him, 11:25-26
The entire rationale for worshipping Him, 12:7-8. Also, 20:28
The entire rationale for missional humility, love, and service to one another, 13:14
The restorative care of Jesus, 20:24-29. Also, 21:15-18
The entire rationale for following Him, 21:19
Our sin-penalty paid, it’s power broken, 1:29
Our new birth, 3:3
Our adoption, 1:12
Our inheritance of eternal life, 3:16. Also, 6:40, 10:28, 17:3
Our joy in and over against sorrow, 16:20
Our peace in and over against fear and anxiety, 16:33
Our sanctification, 17:19
Our unity, 17:21-24
Our ability to bear fruit for God, 15:5
Our ability to bear fruit for God to the end,15:18-16:5
Our preservation to glory, 6:39
Our resurrection to life, as well as the vindication of the just, 5:24-29
Our seeing the glory of Jesus, 17:24
The glory of God!, 11:40
There’s a lot on the line, for time and eternity, in whether or not Joseph’s tomb is vacant come tomorrow morning, some two thousand years ago. Sit in it. Ponder the stakes. And do so with a smile.