Well, here we are again. The great “Resurrection Morning”. This day in Jerusalem some (approximately) 1984 years ago changed and still changes everything. The tomb is empty. Our hearts are full. Jesus really was who He said He was. Jesus really did what He said He would do. And the question that Jesus asked Martha in John 11: 25-26, we unequivocally answer with admiration and adoration—“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Yes, Lord, we do! We absolutely do.
Yet there’s another truth about the empty tomb that won’t be discussed as much in churches across America this morning. Since the tomb is empty, there’s an expectation for believers. But it’s not an expectation we place on ourselves. Rather, it’s the expectation that God places on us.
When Jesus rose from the grave, He didn’t just ascend back to Heaven and enter retirement. He stayed on earth for over a month appearing to the apostles and hundreds of other people. He spoke of Kingdom work. He encouraged them. He prepared them again for the Day of Pentecost when the church would officially begin. And He did things we don’t have record of. Yes, when Jesus rose from His grave, He didn’t just quit.
And as Christians today, when we rise from our “tomb” in baptism, where we are buried, die, and rise to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4), we must get to work. We can’t quit. We haven’t “arrived”. The baptistery isn’t the end—it’s just the beginning. Now that our tomb is empty, there’s an expectation—the same expectation placed on Jesus by the Father. Get busy. Get plugged in. Be doing Kingdom work. Don’t attend your first worship service of the year (“Easter”) and plan only to return Christmas. That’s the very message I will preach this morning at Faith Village—as “new creations”—resurrected people—what are we doing with our “new lives”? Occasional church attendance isn’t exactly what Jesus had in mind.
But there’s one more truth I want to present in this short article on this wonderful Resurrection Sunday. Even though God has an expectation with the empty tomb, it isn’t driven by guilt. Some people simply serve Jesus in guilt because they believe they put Him on the cross. To a certain extent, I get that. Our sins did put Jesus on the cross. But guilt should never be the driving force for our resurrected living. Not even God wants it to be that way. For if we serve out of guilt, we only serve because we feel like we have to—not because we want to.
Grace makes us do more than guilt ever will.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t choose to serve God because of guilt—I choose to serve God because of grace. I don’t choose to worship this morning because of guilt—I choose to worship this morning because of grace. I didn’t go into ministry (I had planned to be an attorney) because of guilt—I went into ministry because of grace. The grace of God is beyond my understanding, imagination, or explanation. But I’m in love with it. I yearn for it. I cherish it. I want to share it. Because grace makes me do more than guilt ever will!
And maybe—just maybe—Jesus wants us to deal with people the same way. “Guilting” people into a relationship with Jesus will never work—at least not a real relationship that lasts—but “gracing” them into that relationship? How can they turn that down?
Are you serving God out of guilt or out of grace? Your friends may be able to answer that better than you can, because our attitude is parallel to our service, and people always notice. One attitude is contagious. One attitude is destructive. But only one is what God had mind.
If you’re a baptized believer, you’re a resurrected liver. With the empty tomb comes an exceptional expectation. But remember, grace makes us do more than guilt ever will.
Thank you, Lord, for your amazing grace that saved a sinner like me. And though I’m “guilty”, your grace makes life worth living.