DON'T SAY JESUS IS RISEN BECAUSE OF AN 'EMPTY GRAVE'| Easter Sunday|Year B

Yes, you heard me well, don't say Jesus is risen because of an empty grave! What if someone stole or removed his body? It was even recorded that stories circulated that his disciples stole his body (Matt 27:64-66). Who even told you the grave was empty? Jesus left an evidence of his resurrection. If you wish to know that evidence read slowly...

John 20:1-9
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’ So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the LINEN CLOTHS lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the LINEN CLOTHS on the ground, and also the CLOTH THAT HAVE BEEN OVER HIS HEAD; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
POINTS FOR REFLECTION
1. Child of God, Jesus left us two evidences that fulfills the scripture to prove his resurrection. Following Jewish custom of burial two cloths were used: the LINEN CLOTH used for wrapping his body with aloe vera spices (Othonion) and another (FACE) CLOTH used for covering his face (Soudarion). Since Jesus himself declares that he has not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them, meaning in him shall the interpretation of the law and prophets find meaning, his birth, life, death and resurrection were foreshadowed in the law of Moses and prophesied by the prophets.

2. How do the presence of these cloths fulfil scripture, you ask me? Did Jesus leave the cloths by accident or is there a greater meaning and significance of these cloths? Now read Lev 16:2-4;23-24 attentively:
The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. “This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred LINEN tunic, with LINEN undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the LINEN sash around him and put on the LINEN turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on...“Then Aaron is to go into the tent of meeting and TAKE OFF the LINEN garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to LEAVE them there. He shall bathe himself with water in the sanctuary area and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people.
3. Jesus is our new High Priest in the order of Melchizedek (Heb 9:1-7) who with his own blood offers atonement for our sins, unlike the Aaronite priests who offered blood of animals, sprinkling it on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. The tomb becomes the inner sanctuary (or holy of holies) where Jesus (the new covenant) lay. Hence Mary magdalene stood outside and does not go in but will later see two angels sitting where Jesus' head and feet lay (Jn 20:11-12) just as Cherubims are situated over the Ark of the covenant in the holy of holies where the high priest sprinkles the blood. 
4. For these obvious reasons, the presence of these cloths were highly emphasised as the defence for the resurrection of Jesus NOT the empty grave. It is the reason Peter and John saw and believed Jesus was raised from the dead even though they had not yet understood how the Scriptures had spoken of it (John 20:8). Whereas the empty grave gave Mary magdalene the impression that 'they have taken the Lord out of the tomb' (Jn 20:2).

TASK: The linen cloths were evidence for Peter and John to believe the resurrection of Jesus. What is the evidence for your belief in the resurrection of Jesus? Scripture says they believed even though they have not understood how scripture proves it. But now you understand how scripture proves it, what encounter can you give to support your claims? 
Peter while addressing Cornelius and his household gives evidences of his encounter with the resurrected Christ and says, he is among the privileged few God chose before hand to make known the resurrection (Acts 10:37-43). God have chosen and adopted you through baptism to be among his witnesses, how are you witnessing the resurrection? 
To have an encounter and witness well to the resurrection you must set your hearts on heavenly things and not on earthly things (Col 3:1-4); you must pursue virtue and abhor vices.
Pray Psalm 25:4-6 now asking the Lord to make you know and encounter His ways. May the Lord help you have a profound encounter with Him this easter. Amen. Happy Easter.

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