The sign in the tomb reads, "He's Not Here—for He Is Risen!"
Each time I've visited Jerusalem, I've gone to the empty tomb. The inscription on the door seen when leaving the tomb says, "He's Not Here, for He is Risen."
Throughout the Middle East each Resurrection weekend, many Christians greet one another with "He is risen," and the response is "He is risen indeed." Although this Resurrection Sunday many are in social distancing and self-quarantine, the fact still remains. He is risen—He is risen indeed!
He Bore the Crown of Thorns that We May Have a Crown of Life
Isaiah 53, and in particular verses 4-6, we are given the incredible promises of God through Christ, as the Suffering Servant (King) who makes atonement for us. He bore our griefs and sorrows, was stricken, afflicted and wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, crushed for our peace, and by His stripes we are healed ... Wow! What a prophetic picture of the fulfillment that took place 2,000 years ago. I call this the great exchange through the high cost of love on Calvary.
Jesus bore the cup of suffering, the crown of thorns (suffering), and the brutality of the cross so we could exchange our filthy rags for robes of righteousness, and through Him, we can receive the crown of righteousness, the crown of life, the crown of glory, an imperishable crown and the crown of rejoicing.
Recently, I received a call from a friend, Jeff Kersey, pastor of Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in South Carolina. Something he shared with me resonated with the messages I've been sharing the last few weeks. I want to share a couple of his thoughts from a message he was planned to share for Resurrection Sunday with his church:
"Here are some thoughts from my Easter message this weekend.
"The spikes on the surface of coronavirus gives this virus its name—corona, which is Latin for "crown." In the Greek, korṓnē means wreath or crown. The coronavirus has brought nothing but fear, anxiety, suffering and death into the world.
"Crown of thorns: Because of our brokenness and hopelessness, Jesus took our punishment. Jesus took on the sickness of sin himself. He is not only our vaccine, but He's our cure. Not a provisional cure but a permanent cure! Sin, guilt, fears, diseases, pain and death ..." —Jeff Kersey.
Yes, corona may mean "crown," and the coronavirus has brought so much fear, anxiety, suffering and death. But, through Christ who bore the crown of suffering (crown of thorns), we have an eternal hope through whatever we may be facing.
A very important event occurred at the end of Jesus' time on the cross. At the very moment Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "It is finished" (Luke 23:46b). "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (John 19:30), the veil in the temple ripped from top to bottom.
The veil was of considerable size and weight. So when we read that it was torn from top to bottom, a supernatural event is being described, as if some great pair of hands took to the veil and tore it as if it were nothing. We are looking at nothing less than the hands of God reaching down to rip away that which separated us from His presence!
This veil in the temple separated the holy place from the holy of holies. Because the holiness of God would not allow the presence of sinful flesh before Him, no one was allowed to go behind the veil into the presence of God except for once a year, when the high priest was allowed to go into the holy of holies in order to make atonement for the people.
When Jesus, the high priest of the new covenant, finished His work on the cross 2,000 years ago, he shouted, "It is finished" (John 19:30b). His sacrifice was not only acceptable, but it was so perfect and powerful that it ripped away the veil of the temple, giving all of us access to the presence of God through faith.
Jesus, through the work of the cross, now gives us access to the presence of God, forgiveness, salvation, healing and freedom as we choose to surrender to Him. The great exchange and His high cost of love grant us the power of the Holy Spirit and the hope of glory.
Let's not waver in our faith! Whatever we do, let's do it with a pure conscience, stirring up each other to love and good works. Let's keep our eyes on our eternal reward and the day when we'll enjoy eternal fellowship with Him in His kingdom.
It is finished, and He is risen!
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is the author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father's Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
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