No one expected an empty tomb. The women who went on Sunday morning brought spices and oil to anoint what they fully expected to find – a dead body. The disciples did not expect an empty tomb. When the women returned with the story of angels telling them, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!”(Luke 24:5-6), they did not believe them. Peter and John run to the tomb. They had to see for themselves. Even after they verify the women’s account, they return to the upper room not knowing what to do, or what it all means. Thomas still did not believe. “Not,” he says, “…unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:25).
They were all hiding behind locked doors when Jesus suddenly and inexplicably appears before them. His presence affirms all of the testimony about His rising. That is when they changed. They again follow a resurrected Jesus for month before He tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit and then ascends to heaven.
When the disciples received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, everything changed. They went from men and women cowering in fear to outspoken and passionate proclaimers of the truth. The Bible tells us Peter steps out of the upper room with the eleven other apostles and shouts to the crowd that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, and He has risen from dead! Three thousand people join the church that day.
Yes, that first Easter changed everything. Has it changed you? Are you a different person now than you were before you accepted a risen Christ? Do you speak differently? Think differently. Act differently. Have you changed?
No one can truly encounter Jesus and remain the same. I pray this Easter that Christ has changed your heart. That family, friends, and coworkers all agree. “You are not the same as you were last week, last month, last year. You seem to be at peace. You are more compassionate, caring, merciful, and loving than you ever were before.” Yes, I pray that everyone sees you in the context of “B.C.” (before Christ) and “A.D.” (Anno Domini – Latin for “in the year of the Lord”). When looking back at your “old self,” I pray people might say, “Yeah, but that was him before Christ. Check her out now, after Christ. She has completely changed!” And what changed you? The same thing that changed Peter, John, the women, and all of the disciples – an empty tomb. The realization that Jesus died for your sins and forgave you utterly and completely. You now have a new life – in Christ.
Are you now willing to share your story with others? Brother, sister, can you spare some of your change with those who do not yet know His story, or think they are beyond forgiveness? God would love to use you now to be an integral part of changing someone else’s life.
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