Don't put Jesus back in the tomb after Easter

Easter is over.The Easter buns are no longer being buttered and the Easter eggs have been eaten. All that remains is a scrap of brightly coloured tinfoil hiding under a bush in the garden, left behind after the children's Easter egg hunt. And Jesus has been put safely back in the tomb for another year. What do I mean? Well, on Good Friday, the faithful in quiet contemplation attended Good Friday services and meditated on Christ's sacrifice. On Sunday morning churches were packed with people to celebrate the resurrection. And many of us sang with great gusto Charles Wesley's hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" as we celebrated Christ's victory over sin and death. And on Monday free from the constraints of work and routine we celebrated Easter with our families. But then came Tuesday! The emotional charge of Easter Sunday was soon drawn from us by the reality of having to go back to work and to everyday life .Our minds soon exchanged the meditations on the glories of Christ for a list of errands and housework.

Given how quickly the glory and joy of Easter leaves us, it can make us question the Easter miracle. When we look back at the tomb, it seems the stone that once was cast aside is now creeping back over the opening again as we go back to our old lives, and we go about our business as though Christ was lying cold, still and dead inside the tomb. So the question for all of us is how do we keep Christ's death before us and live in the power of the resurrection?

I think we find five helpful pointers in Matthew 28:16-19

1. We need to continually strengthen our faith. In Matthew 28:17 it says, "When they saw Him they worshipped Him but some of the disciples doubted." When we doubt we need to go back to the gospels and meditate on the resurrection story. We need to pray that God, through the work of his Spirit, makes it more real to us. In Galatians 3 Paul chides the Galatians for not holding onto the resurrection story and instead relying on works. So we need to hold onto the reality of the resurrection by continually reminding ourselves that we are not saved by human effort but by Christ's work on the cross. We also need to pray that God keeps our hearts soft to the true story of the resurrection as first relayed in the gospels. In Mark 16:14, when Jesus appeared to the disciples while they are reclining in a room, He rebukes them for their unbelief and hardness of heart for not believing those who had seen Him risen.

2. We need to be obedient. In Matthew 28:16 it says, "the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them."What mountain has God asked you to go to? What has God commanded you to do? What service or ministry as God laid on your heart? My experience is that we only develop a closer communication with God and have a closer revelation as to who He is, when we obey what He has asked us to do. The more we disregard what He has asked us to do the more quickly the rock slides over the opening of the tomb.

3. We need to worship and praise Him. In Matthew 28:16 it says, "when they saw Him they worshipped Him."Today more and more people are choosing not go to church or be involved in corporate worship, but Ephesians 5:19 says, "speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ". When we worship God and praise Him, it not only fills us with joy, but makes Christ more real. Psalm 22:3 says, "God inhabits the praises of His people". So God is with us in a very special way when we worship Him. We need to be regularly singing and praising God, not just on Easter Sunday but every day.

4. We need to remember that the resurrection story is meant to be shared and taught. Matthew 28:19-20 says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."When we tell people about Jesus' death and resurrection it becomes more real to us.This is because the Holy Spirit is living and active in the process. In John 14:16: Jesus said:"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."So when we recount the resurrection story to others God makes it more real for us.

5. The final thing we need to do is cling onto Jesus' promise. "Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."(Matthew 28:20) Deuteronomy 31:6 also says:"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you."

Even though Jesus may seem to be still in the tomb, or absent, He is in fact always with us, and will never forsake us.When we hold to that promise the power and joy of the resurrection will always be with us.


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