JESUS! In Word and Song

WEEK 21

THE EMPTY TOMB

“Christ’s resurrection is one of the central truths of the Christian faith and the only plausible explanation for the empty tomb. Many theories have been sinfully invented over the centuries to explain away the empty tomb, all of them equally futile.”1

“Though Jesus had predicted His resurrection numerous times, it was more than [His followers] could believe at that point. It would take His showing Himself alive to them by many ‘infallible proofs’ for them to believe.”2 (Acts 1:3)

“That the women came to anoint Jesus’ body on the third day after His burial showed that they, like the disciples, were not expecting Him to rise from the dead.”3 But GOD . . .

Jesus rose. His body had not decayed, for it was not possible for that holy thing to see corruption; but still it had been dead.  And by the power of God—by His own power, by the Father’s power, by the power of the Spirit, for it is attributed to each of these in turn—before the sun had risen, His dead body was quickened. This is the doctrine that is the keystone of the arch of Christianity.4

The guards at the tomb experienced paralyzing fear: “[A]n angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became as dead men”(Matt 28:2-4 ESV).

The angel proclaims the great truth that concerns everyone and will change the universe forever. It is with flight, trembling, astonishment, silence and fear that the women initially receive the angel’s message about God’s action in raising Jesus from the dead.5

But instead of paralyzing fear the women’s fear energized them: “So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy”(Matt 28:8 ESV). “[T]rembling and astonishment had seized them”(Mark 16:8 ESV).

“These graphic words indicate dramatically the soul-shocking nature of the truth those women had just learned.”6

Fear and great joy is: “A natural state of mingled feeling, in view of what they had seen and heard. Fear at what they had seen, joy at what they had heard, and both mingled because the latter seemed too good to be true.”7

“Energizing fear pulled them out of the paralyzed fear of obsession with themselves and into a world of GOD’s surprises.”8 “Suddenly they understood they were not the center of their own existence nor wanted to be!”9 That energizing fear became an excitement in waiting for what GOD would do next!

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ENDNOTES

(21) Energizing Fear

            1. John MacArthur, One Perfect Life (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012) 472.

            2. John MacArthur, 471.

            3. John MacArthur, 470.

            4. Charles Spurgeon, “Resurrection,” Free Grace Broadcaster 235 (Spring 2016) : 3.

            5. Gerald O’Collins, “The Empty Tomb—What Does it Mean?” 21 April 2003, America, The Jesuit Review, 12 February 2021 https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2003/04/21/what-does-empty-tomb-jesus-mean-us-today.

            6. James Burton Coffman, “Commentary on Mark 16:8,” 1999, Coffman Commentaries on the Bible, 12 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/mark/16-8.html#verse-bcc.

            7. Philip Schaff, “Commentary on Matthew 28:8,” 1879-90, Schaff’s Popular Commentary on the New Testament, 12 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/matthew/28-8.html#verse-scn.

            8. Eugene Peterson, Living the Resurrection (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 2006) 17.

            9. Peterson, 28.

            10. Peterson, 30.

            11. Peterson.

            12. “ . . . the LORD of hosts . . . Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Isaiah 8:13 ESV).

            13. Eugene Peterson, Living the Resurrection (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 2006) 17.

            14. Peterson, 28.

            15. Peterson, 38.

            16. “And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:3 ESV).

            17. R. Macculloch, “Commentary on Isaiah 11:3,” 1905-09, The Biblical Illustrator, 12 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/isaiah/11-3.html#verse-tbi.

THE CONCLUSION OF IT ALL

“[J]ust as [I have] done nothing for [my] justification, so [I] need do nothing for [my] sanctification.” Watchman Nee (ref#387, p58). I need to do nothing but to live life ‘in CHRIST’—to work out what CHRIST has put in.

All my problems stem from unbelief. I choose to trust myself instead of GOD. As soon as I begin to work things out myself satan comes to help me. I get overwhelmed, discouraged, anxious, miserable, etc., because my inadequate flesh and my archenemy hands me failure. My unbelief, causing me to trust myself, brings me to a fruitless exercise of control.

In trusting myself as I walk toward complete sanctification I am preoccupied with gaining victory over my sin. But GOD’s way is to remove me, the sinner that is dealing with sin.

“God sets [me] free from the dominion of sin, not by strengthening [my] old man but by crucifying him. Such a discovery brings human striving and self-effort to an end” Watchman Nee (ref#387, p54)—if…if I believe by giving myself completely and constantly over to GOD’s rule satan will have no grounds to accuse.  

Belief in JESUS means I am ‘in CHRIST.’

“Some of us have tried very hard to get rid of [the]sinful life, but we have found it most tenacious; What is the way out? It is not by trying to kill ourselves, but by recognizing that God has dealt with us in Christ” Watchman Nee (ref#387, p43).

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”(Gal 2:20 ESV).

“A Christian is one who has been ‘crucified with Christ,’ who has died with Him, been buried with Him, risen with Him, ascended with Him, and is seated ‘in heavenly places’ with Him” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p10).

“Christians [are] kept by being ‘in Christ,’ [by being] totally identified with him, [by] being actually his ‘spiritual body’ James Burton Coffman (ref#388).

“Chosen, called, quickened, washed, sanctified, and justified by God Himself, we are in no sense our own deliverers. The quarry out of which the marble comes is His; the marble itself is His, the digging and hewing and polishing are His; He is the sculptor and we the statue” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p11).  My sanctification is all GOD’s work; I am just the marble He digs, hews, and polishes. This represents me working out my salvation.

TRUE CHRISTIANS OR FAUX?

DEFINING TERMS

In 1 Corinthians Paul addresses the saints in Corinth – “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…” (1 Cor 1:2 ESV).  He speaks to the entire church but later he calls some ‘babes” and some “spiritual” saints.

“…in the church of Christ there are two classes of Christians: (1) Those who have lived many years as believers and yet always remain babes; (2) Those who are spiritual men because they have given themselves up to the power and the leading of the Holy Spirit…” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p8).

“The SPIRITUAL were those who, after conversion, had continued to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, no longer continuing as ‘babes in Christ.’”  James Burton Coffman (ref#298).  Babes “were in Christ, and so were new creatures…though babes and weaklings in it” John Gill (ref#300).  Babes were carnal “…those who were continuing to live like the unconverted…” James Burton Coffman (ref#298).

“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.…For while there is jealously and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way” (1 Cor 3:1,3 ESV)?

Backsliders: “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you:…” (Jer 3:14 KJV).  “…we do not speak of the destruction of the root principle in your soul, but of the decline of its power…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Aug 22nd).

The terms “backslider,” “people of the flesh,” “carnal,” “babes” can depict a Christian (a not-advancing Christian) or a non-Christian since no one but GOD knows the condition of the heart, but in 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul uses these terms to address Christians.

JESUS

FOLLOWING GOD’S WILL

Man killed Him, yes, but JESUS allowed it.  JESUS Himself sealed His own fate; He arranged for His own crucifixion.

Mark tells it so well: “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death; and they were not finding any” (Mark 14:55 NASB).

JESUS broke His silence when the high priest, for a second time, gave Him the opportunity to speak: “…Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the BlessedOne?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.’” (Mark 14:61-62 NASB).  “And tearing his clothes, the high priest said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses?  ‘You have heard the blasphemy…And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death” (Mark 14:63-64 NASB).

FATHER, Your Son’s obedience to Your request inspires me.  Will You ever ask me to condemn myself to death?  Probably not, but everyday You give situations where I have opportunity to condemn my self-will to death and to preform Your will.

A few verses back You conveyed to Mark the procedure You took Your SON through to make Him strong enough to follow Your will.  It is the procedure I desire You take me through every day.  It’s asking to get out of doing Your will, then submitting to it, then allowing You to strengthen me enough to walk through it.

“…He knelt down and beganto pray, saying, ‘Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.’  Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him” (Luke 22:42-43 NASB).

As the SON of Man, JESUS could not follow Your commands without Your help.  I cannot either.  James Burton Coffman in his commentary gives an example of before and after Your strengthening.

“In John, the Lord’s majestic appearance prostrated a whole company of soldiers on their faces [John 18:6]; in the synoptics, [Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke] he appears in utter weakness, agony, and even fear. This verse harmonizes both pictures of our Lord, the synoptics giving his state BEFORE the strengthening of the angel, and John giving it AFTER the angel’s mission was completed” (James Burton Coffman Commentaries, Luke 22:43, brackets mine).

FATHER, provide the strength I need when I commit myself to Your will.