I was in a grocery store checkout line on a late-night college food run. My eyes landed on a tabloid headline: “Resurrection True: Man Dead 50 Years Comes Back from Grave!”
I knew better.
Still, that headline: “Resurrection True: Man Dead 50 Years Comes Back from Grave!”
And for the first and only time in my life, I opened a copy of the Weekly World News.
Here was the story: Dec 11, 1941. As Singapore fell two young newlyweds are captured by the Japanese and interred in separate POW camps. Many died. After the war the woman looked for her beloved. High and low, near and far she searched, desperate to find the love of her life. Finally, after 44 years, she gave up and married another, a man who had been a friend for decades. …Three years later her doorbell rang. The woman opened door…and there stood her long-lost love.
The woman said, “It’s like he was dead for 50 years and came back from the grave.”
The ever outlandish Weekly World News buried the lead on an amazing story.
Popular culture used to think the resurrection was “burying the lead” on Jesus the great moral teacher…that the disciples went to the wrong tomb…or stole the body…or, the most outlandish of the headline seeking theories, that Jesus’ body was eaten by dogs..
But that is old news…
Did you know that belief in Jesus’ resurrection is on the upswing? A recent survey reports American’s belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is up from 67 to 75 percent in just three years. More and more Americans believe in the resurrection.
…But according to the same sources, fewer and fewer Americans attend church, from 70% to 50% over the last 20 years.
Think about that for a moment: More and more people believe that a man brutally executed, blood drained from his corpse, epoxied into grave clothes and sealed in a tomb for three days, punted a two-ton stone off his own tomb and emerged into a Sunday morning sunrise, seen and interacted with by hundreds and hundreds of witnesses…and yet, less and less of those same people are showing up at that man’s house to find out what comes next!
More and more people think the tomb is empty…
…but they don’t know why it matters!
I don’t want to be accused of burying the lead, so here is my point: The empty tomb offers the human race a fresh start.
1 Corinthians 15:20 says this, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.”
Firstfruits are the first portion of a harvest, the way a farmer knows if they are going to eat that year. If the firstfruits are tasty and abundant, the harvest is good; life secure. If the firstfruits are poor, you are looking at tough times. The firstfruits point to what is coming.
Jesus is your firstfruits. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, you are eternally on your own; but Jesus did rise from the dead. His resurrection is the firstfruits of your resurrection.
Listen to 1 Corinthians 15:21-23: “For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”
You and I are so valuable to God that Jesus Christ stomped out death itself to be able to bring you to His Father. You can live in confidence at the Father’s forgiveness purchased at the cross. At the empty tomb, God; vast and infinite. Mysterious. Awesome in power. Dwelling in unapproachable light…offered humanity a “do-over.” The Only Begotten One, full of grace and truth laid down his life for you on Good Friday. And He picked it up again to offer an identity as His own.
Where do you find your identity? Over the last 40 years of post-modernity, we have been taught the narrative that our identities are grounded in the individual. Here’s a question for the world: How’s that working for ya?
Even our skewed news…our digitally-curated, narcissism encouraging, only the news we “like” cellphone news…even that leaves us with the inescapable awareness of the inability of the individual to get it right.
Welcome to the post-modern hangover…where, we are told, if we are just true to our passions all will be well. If only it were so.
This is not what journalists call “puffery.” This is the “above the fold” stuff: God offers us is nothing less than a new identity, one in which we are more than the bundled sum of our drives and passions and political commitments.
In Christ we become a child of the King of Glory.
…Accepted by God;
…bought back from the pawnshop of sin;
…given a new outfit, the righteous robes of Christ;
…Offered the firstfruits of the only identity I know that allows one to go through life open-hearted and open-handed toward others…O, and did I mention that since Jesus Christ’s grave is empty, if you are in Christ, yours will be too!
Don’t bury the lead on your life: “Resurrection True”: Man (or woman) dead 2 yrs, or 10 or 50 comes back from the grave!” There is a man standing at your door knocking. He is the one you have been waiting for…your beloved. He has been seeking you, looking near and far for you. Jesus said it like this, “Behold I stand at the door and knock…”
Jesus Christ walked out of His grave that you might walk out of yours.