Our Need, the Cross, & the Empty Tomb

(Note: This is my manuscript from this EBC’s Sunrise Service. If it sounds a bit different from most of the writing on this blog, it’s because it was written for spoken communication.)

It is early, and we gather to remember the powerful but simple message of the gospel: Jesus Christ who lived and died and rose from the grave in order that we might be reconciled to God and share in his victory over sin and death. For a few minutes this morning, I want us to turn our brains on to think about our need, the cross, and the empty tomb.

I have read that Martin Luther often hosted Easter Egg Hunts where the men hid eggs for the women and children to find. He believed this to be a beautiful reminder about the excitement the women felt when they found the empty tomb. May we all remember that joy not only today, but whenever we consider the resurrection.

Our Need
In Romans 5 the Apostle Paul compares Jesus with Adam. He even calls Jesus “the second Adam,” and says that Adam was really a “type” and foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.

Rom. 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”

In Adam, we all sinned, we all fell, and became guilty before a holy God. Indeed, none of us can think, “Oh man, Adam, what a failure. I would’ve done better! I wouldn’t have messed it all up like he did.” Yes, yes you would have!

The fruit of sin is death, that’s why they are always paired together in Scripture. Wherever you see sin, death is soon to follow; wherever you see death, sin is not absent. Because of sin, our relationship with God was broken. Our relationship with each other was broken. And our relationship with creation was broken. If you need any proof that these relationships (with God, with others, and with creation) are broken, just consider the winter we’ve had!

The Cross: The Love and Wrath of God
But Paul continues in verses 18-21, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

What’s this all mean? It means that just as all creation fell in the first Adam, so all creation will be restored and redeemed in the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Through Christ’s death, sin and death were satisfied; through his resurrection they were conquered and given a death-sentence.

Because of the cross, the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus on our behalf. He was our substitute, in our place he hung. When we consider the love of God to us, we have no need to look any further than the cross. When we consider his wrath, again, the cross is where we should look. It was on the cross that the fullness of God’s love and the fullness of his wrath were simultaneously poured out in order to redeem his people.

The Empty Tomb: The Power and Hope of God
Good Friday would not be “good” without Easter Sunday. It would have been as tragic and devastating as it felt to the disciples on Saturday. If Christ died as our substitute but didn’t rise from the dead then our faith would be useless and we would still be under the curse of sin. Because of the resurrection, death is no longer an undefeated champion over humanity. Instead, the empty tomb gave death itself a death sentence.

The cross and the empty tomb must never be separated in our understanding of the gospel. So how shall we live in response to the cross and the empty tomb?

Paul writes that since we are in Christ, we have been brought from death to life, and we should live like it. Sin brings death… and so we walk away from sin and we present ourselves to God, as instruments of righteousness.

Because Jesus lives, we have new life and forgiveness of sins and an eternal hope.

It is important for us to always remember our need and God’s provision through Jesus Christ. Praise be to God who gave us Jesus, who died in our place and who rose in victory over sin and death so that we could be forgiven and restored before a holy God.

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