The Empty Tomb (Part2)

The Empty Tomb

Part 2: “Why did Jesus Leave the grave clothes behind?”

NOTE to new Readers: It would be helpful if you read “Part 1: "Outside Eden's Gate.” It is posted here in this heading, BLOGS.

    Welcome back. When we last met we were standing outside the gates of a beautiful place called Eden. Adam and Eve once clothed in the glory of God, now clothed in the skins of animals, expelled from the Garden because of their disobedience to the Word of God. Created in God’s image, once reflecting the image of their Creator, however upon the occasion of their fall, the glory departed and the Father’s image marred. The drama of redemption from this point in human history is recorded in the Bible, God’s way to reclaim and restore all mankind for His glory. The heart of that drama is the message of Holy Week.

    Let’s return to the place called Golgotha on a hill outside of Jerusalem.

    As Jesus hung upon the tree, soldiers stripped Him of His garments in an act to degrade and shame Him. The prophet Isaiah describes this even in vivid detail 700 hundreds years before it ever happened. Hundreds of years and hundreds of prophecies find their fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On that cross Jesus bore all the sinful and shameful deeds of humanity; past, present and future. Actually, He did more that wear the sins, as if to simply carry the load of a weary traveler. He literally became those sins; the sinless one became sinful. It was in that moment of exchange, our sinful life for His sinless life, that He moaned in agony, “My God why have you forsaken me?” In that divine moment, the Father turned His back on His Son because in His holiness the Father could not tolerate to look upon what the Son became on Calvary! As the Reformer Martin Luther mediated on the profound display of sacrifice and substitution on the cross, he sat perplexed staring into space in abysmal contemplation. Slowly a glimmer of light came across his face and he proclaimed, “God forsaken by God! Oh, who can comprehend the miracle and mystery of Calvary?” He bore our sins upon Himself as He hung suspended between heaven and hell, as if neither place could claim Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

    Taken from the cross and laid in a borrowed tomb; the sins of the world were His only possession. His body was wrapped in linen and a napkin placed across His face but when He arose, he left the grave clothes behind. So once again I ask, “Why did He leave the linen cloth behind?” Jesus bore our sins on the cross and carried them to the grave but when He arose He bore our sins no more! Like the grave clothes, He left our sins behind because His earthly work was complete. Mission accomplished! Grave clothes and sins became a part of the past. He arose from the dead ‘in newness of life’, a resurrected life and glorified Body. He departed the tomb clothed in the shekinah glory of the Father; the same glory that once clothed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden but forfeited through sin. On Friday He hung naked upon a cross, placed in a borrowed tomb clothed in simple garments suited for a corpse, and then when Sunday arrived He was clothed in Glory! From grave garments to glory garments; only Jesus! Hallelujah!

    As John reflected on the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration and no doubt the post resurrection appearances of Jesus, he declared, “And we beheld His glory.” The word John chose to use was shekinah. As the author of Hebrews confirms, “Who [Jesus] being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself, purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (1:3)

    “And He was buried” means my sins are gone, purged. They are paid in full and cast away forever. The Psalmist (103:12) declared, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” The beauty of that verse is that east and west never meet! If you are headed east and circle the globe you will always be travelling east. Sins removed never to be met again. Forever vanished. Sins tread beneath the feet of the triumphant Lord and hurled into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19) “And He was buried” declares the completeness of death. Make no mistake, He didn’t swoon or faint on the cross. He died and He was buried. Transported from the cross, He was entombed and confined with a stone in the place of the dead. There can be no dispute over His deadness, or mystery concerning His body. It was not stolen. “That He was buried” is a pronouncement of death since you do not bury the living. In fact, Jesus experience death like no man before or after. He absorbed the full sting of death. Death for man is a shadow but for Jesus is was fully real. His deadness must be complete in order for His resurrection to be victorious. His return from the finality of death was more than a restoration to life like Lazarus, who was raised but died again. He arose victorious; immortal, clothed in Glory; and He held the keys to death, hell and the grave in His hands. (This might be some indication as to what happened between Friday and Sunday!) As His defeat of death was exhaustive, so His resurrection was complete in victory. By means of His resurrection Jesus exchanged the dreary garments of death and darkness with the glorious attire of light. Hallelujah!

    In fact, in victory He reclaimed the glory for all mankind that Adam and Eve forfeited in the Garden of Eden. Before his sin Adam was man as God intended man to be. But, he failed; his disobedience banished the glory of God from his countenance leaving him naked. And, the Father’s image was marred in man. The animal skins prepared by the shedding of blood were only a temporary substitute; a symbol waiting for ultimate fulfillment one day. Like the untold numbers of lambs that were slain, their blood placed on the altar crying for ultimate fulfillment. That cry was answered and fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the second Adam, was man as God intended man to be; from birth to death! Whereas the first Adam failed, the Second Adam did not fail. By means of His virtuous and sinless life, His vicarious death and victorious resurrection He provided the Way to reenter the sanctuary of God’s presence, protection, provisions. Paradise Regained. Glory of God restored and the image of God, placed in the bosom of Adam but marred by the fall, is restored to those who find their being in the new Adam, Jesus Christ. Everything the first Adam lost, the second Adam restored.

    Christ follower, be not dismayed or heavy in heart. Indeed, it was our sin that required His death. However, in His burial He entombed our iniquities and their charges, erasing the past with its haunting guilt; and through His victorious resurrection He secured our future defeating our mortal foes; sin, death, hell and the grave. The gospel is our certain Hope; Jesus died, He was buried, and He arose on the third day, He appeared to His followers! This is the “Good News” message entrusted in our care for which we are commissioned as ambassadors of reconciliation to persuade men to “be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-21)

    Our faith is only as good as where we place our anchor. There is absolutely nothing in this world that is sufficient and solid enough to place our anchor! However, the empty tomb is stunning proof that the Victor Himself is the only place where you can place your anchor. The author of Hebrews instructs us; “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.”

    In his outstanding book “Six Hours One Friday,” Max Lucado relates a life experience in which he and other owners of sea-going vessels were preparing to face an approaching hurricane. Frantically everyone attempted to secure their crafts to piers, trees or anything that looked sturdy. Several boats looked like an insect caught in a spider’s web with ropes extending in every direction. Everyone’s movement motivated by panic and haste, everyone but one older man who was sitting, rather calm and amused by the activity before him. His weathered face and peaceful demeanor reflected experience, calm, wisdom. He looked like he had weathered more than a few storms in his life. Eventually Lucado initiated a conversation with the man and discovered he was an old sea captain, so he asked his advice concerning the best way to secure his boat as the storm approached. “All the things people are fastening to; docks, buoys, trees, these will be gone when the ‘cane hits,” he mused. Puzzled and exasperated, Lucado implored, “Then what can be done? Is there no hope?” The captain replied, “Take her out and anchor deep! It is the only way to ride out the storm.”

    Anchor. Anchor deep. Storms come. Life Changes. Normal fades into new. The things in life we think are solid and a worthy fixture to fasten our hope, in the end, are all temporary. There is only one place where you can anchor deep. Are you looking for a safe, security, solid foundation to place your anchor as the storm passes by?

Unfasten from all the temporary things that are rooted in the soil of this earth. Anchor in Jesus! Anchor deep. Place all your hope in Him who weathered life’s storms, including the grave, and yet walked forth as our Living Hope. Attach everything to Jesus!

Remember, trust Jesus and wash your hands. It is only “Good Friday” because He is good; only He can take the horror of Calvary and turn it into the hope by means of a resurrection.  


 (Good Friday 10April2020)       Ldw