The Cross, the Veil, and the Empty Tomb

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)

When I think of Easter, three objects come to my mind…

~ the cross, the veil, and the empty tomb ~

 jesus-on-the-cross-for-us

For if not for the cross, my penalty would not have been paid. The broken blood oath of the covenant would not have been satisfied. It is only through the blood of Jesus that we are cleansed from the curse of sin.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

 torn

As Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” and gave up His Spirit, the veil in the Temple, that separated man from the Holy of Holies, was torn in two. It was as if God, seeing the injustice of Christ’s death, rent His clothes in grief. And in so doing, He opened the way for all to enter into His presence. Now, boldly, we can come before the Throne of Grace, for the barrier of sin that separated us from God has been broken. The terrible gulf has been filled and we are reconciled to the Father.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

 The-Empty-Tomb

Even as the sun was blotted from the sky and the earth was covered in darkness, God knew that Sunday was coming. Sealed for three days within the tomb, the Lord’s body lay, uncorrupted. Then with the dawn of that Sunday morning, the stone was rolled away–not to let anyone out, but to let those present bear witness–that indeed, Jesus had risen.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

 Where-is-Your-Sting

The tomb is empty! Death has no power over Him, the grave cannot contain Him. And now we have not just hope, but a Living Hope in Christ Jesus, the Risen Savior!

“O Death, where is your sting?

O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57

Hosanna!

~ Susan

Three Nails

It is often said that bad things come in threes.Nails

Yet we see in scripture that the number three represents completeness.

Are there not three facets of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Three parts to the Tabernacle: the court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies?

Jonah was in the whale for three days. Jesus was in the tomb for three days.

The number resonates all through the Word of God. How then can we see the number three as a bad omen?

Yet, as I pondered this, it came to methe image of three nails. The vision stayed with me for weeks. Yet I could not put together what exactly God was saying. What was the significance of those three nails?

Three nails pierced the hands and feet of Jesus as he hung upon the cross. Three nails were used to crucify our Savior.

Slowly, my vision cleared. My eyes were opened, as again, I read the story of the crucifixion.

As the first nail bit into the flesh of Jesus’ palm, as the crowd taunted and jeered, He spoke this prayer:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34

He looked past the hammer, beyond the hand, and into the heart that was yet unclean. A heart that needed Him, for was not this His mission, to bring the lost to the Father. He forgave, and in so doing, He showed us our need and His redeeming love.

The second nail pierced through his other hand, and with the agony of the searing pain, he cried out:

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34

Here was the climax of Jesus’ life. All He had worked for unfolded in that desperate hour. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus not only bore our sins, but He became our sin. He experienced the full meaning of what it was to be human: completely and utterly separated from God. For where sin is, God cannot be. The gulf stretched before Jesus, and He was alone.

The final nail was driven into His feet, those precious feet where the tears of Mary had washed away the stains of His journey. It was in that final hour that the third prayer was lifted toward heaven:

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Luke 23:46

Through the torment of His distress, Jesus surrendered to the will of God. He trusted the Father despite His circumstances. The Savior demonstrated to us all, that even in the midst of our trials, we are to have faith in the Lord. God is our salvation. God turned and reached across the void and took hold of Jesus.

“It is finished!” John 19:30

The Bride Price was paid. Yet, God had more to give. Three days later, within a dark and dismal tomb, life returned to Jesus. Death could not hold Him, even as death has no power over us!

But how can we conquer death?

Each point, each prayer, must pierce us, even to our very souls. We must be crucified with Christ.

There were three crosses on that first Good Friday. Two thieves hanging beside Jesus: one to the right and one to the left.

On one side, the thief blasphemed, taunting Jesus:

“If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” Luke 23:39

The other thief rebuked the first:

“We receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

Here, as we all must do, he acknowledged his sin. He perceived his own guilt and the terrible gulf before him. So he surrendered to God, and spoke with a humble and honest heart:

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Luke 23:41-42

As the thief confessed his belief that Jesus is the One who saves, Jesus looked at him with those loving eyes and spoke these words:

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Today, we have a choice to make. We can either be as the first thief, and deny Christ; or we can be as the second thief, admit our fault and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Jesus showed us the waywith three nails and three prayers.

So what can three nails accomplish?

They can bridge the gulf between death and life. Save the lost. Transform hearts. Open minds. Free a captive soul.

Three nails and three prayers. The choice is yours.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

~ Susan

 

Reference: Robert C. Crosby, D.Min. “The One Jesus Loves”