By Travis Biller
Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Elizabethton
Focal Passage: Luke 24:1-12
“It’s just too good to be true. And besides, I was always told that if something is too good to be true, then it must not be true.” I understand. We live in a world filled with uncertainty and hopelessness. Indeed, as I write this, the COVID-19 virus is wreaking havoc around the world. Many are filled with fear. Just yesterday (March 17) I made the painful decision to cancel all church activities and services in light of the virus. In fact, in the minds of many, the only thing certain in this life is death and taxes. Our current circumstances do not offer encouragement.
BUT (I am thankful for that word) that is not end of the story. While the world is filled with uncertainty, we would do well to remember that since our first parents left the Garden of Eden, doubt, pain, suffering, sin, and death have been a normal part of our existence. Yet, despite that reality God has been working. His greatest work was seen in the most unlikely place.
Our text is Luke 24:1-12. Two women who have been following Jesus are coming to His tomb. They are bringing the necessary spices with which to bury His body. No doubt as they make their journey, they are filled with sorrow for their loss, and a sense of hopelessness that the One they believed was their Messiah has been killed. His ministry is ended. Everything they hoped was true has come crashing down. With heavy spirits they approached the tomb only to find it rolled away.
Instead of seeing the dead body of their Teacher and Lord they are confronted with two angels who seemingly rebuke them! “He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again’” (vv. 6-7).
Overwhelmed by their circumstances, bewildered in their lack of understanding, they forgot. They forgot those precious words our Savior gave them before the hardship arrived.
The words of the angels jarred them from their despondency. No doubt the very presence of the angels was a shock to their system. It had its desired effect. Verse eight tells us, “And they remembered His words.” We can do no better. In an uncertain world, we must remember His words.
He said He would rise again. When those two women peered across the threshold of that cold tomb, they found no body. The tomb was empty! The angels announced, “He is not here, He has risen!” (v.6).
The fullness of hope arrived that day. The uncertainty of the world has been eclipsed by the surety of the resurrection. Those women left the tomb different people from when they arrived. Their sorrow was turned into joy. They went and energetically told the eleven disciples the incredible news. Peter was at first unconvinced; but then he too looked into the tomb only to find it empty. Peter spent the rest of his days declaring our hope in Christ (1 Peter 1:1-9).
Sometimes it just seems too good to be true. The events of the world hinder our faith. The tragedies of life steal our joy. Our losses generate genuine grief. But (there is that word again) we have His Words. He told us ahead of time. We just need to remember.
Dear friends, the tomb is empty. He is risen! B&R — Biller is pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, Elizabethton.