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The Tomb | The Story

#storychanging

The Tomb | The Story

Monday  This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain.  Mark 5:3 

Tombstones. Graves. Cemeteries. They creep us out a little, especially after dark. Graveyards have an eerie quality because they are so final. No one being buried in a tomb is coming back. In first-century Judea, tombs were caves carved out of rock. When dead bodies were laid inside, the openings were sealed with boulders. Mark chapter 5 tells us about a demon-possessed man who lived in the tombs. Crazy, naked, and scary, he was more comfortable with the dead than with the living. The place that others avoided became his comfort zone. But with one word from Jesus, those tombs became his testimony.

Maybe you’ve been there. You didn’t start out to live in a graveyard, but one bad decision led to another until you felt more comfortable with evil than with good. The choices others avoided became your comfort zone. Then everything you cherished died—your relationships, your dreams, your self-respect—and it started to feel like a stone had been rolled across your future. But tombs don’t scare Jesus. When the demonized man cried out for help, he was not only healed, but he became the region’s first missionary. That’s not surprising because those who’ve lived among tombstones often make the best missionaries. They’ve learned the hard way that hanging on to sin leads only to death, but surrendering to Jesus leads to a resurrection.

Final Thought:  With one word from Jesus, our tombs can become our testimony.

Prayer: Lord God, I can identify with that demonized man. When my dreams died, I went to live among the tombstones. I excused sin, dabbled in evil, and justified it all. But now I let go and surrender to you. Please save me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday  Who is there to condemn us? For Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God—and He is interceding for us.  Romans 8:34

“I’ve felt terrible lately,” sighed Carla. “I’m such a goof-up. I can’t seem to get anything right. I try and it all comes out wrong. I feel like God is mad at me.” Jack finished his coffee and looked at his friend. “What’s it sound like, you know, in your head?” Carla thought for a minute. “Well, I hear, ‘You’re such a failure! You’ll always be inferior to everybody else. You’re not much of a Christian, losing your temper, hating your job…just give up!’” Jack grinned. “Does God talk like that? Just the opposite. That’s your accuser’s voice. He’s demanding that God condemn you. But don’t worry, you’ve got an excellent lawyer!”

It’s true; she does. You can’t get a better advocate than God’s own Son who lived a spotless life and then rose from the dead. And that’s what Jesus is. He’s our advocate, always interceding for His own. Carla’s case may sound something like this:

Satan: “So God, may I point out what Carla did? Second time, too. What a loser! I’d give up on her if I were you.” 

Jesus: “Father, Carla is one of ours. She’s trusted in me and really wants to do right. I know how it feels to be misunderstood and frustrated. She messed up, but she’s confessed it and we can forgive her because of my cross.”

God the Father: “Absolutely! I love that Carla wants to please me, so I sent Jack to help her. Beat it, Satan, Carla’s mine!”

Final Thought: If you’ve surrendered your life to the lordship of Jesus, He’s advocating for you too. Becoming a Christian means we get the best Lawyer in the universe pleading our case before the Ultimate Judge.

Prayer: Father, thank you that you won’t condemn me because of what Jesus did for me. Surrendering my life to Him means that all condemnation was already poured out on Him. Thank you that He’s interceding for me. In His precious name, amen.

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Wednesday If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  I Corinthians 15:17

Liz picked up her clipboard and approached a woman with a poodle. “Hello, I’m taking a survey about religion,” she began. “Who do you believe Jesus Christ to be?” The woman lifted her chin. “I am a person of faith. I believe in Jesus, I just don’t believe that everything in the Bible is true. Jesus was a great prophet, a social reformer, and was killed for His beliefs,” she said. “He was a role model for all of us.” Liz checked the appropriate boxes on her form. “Do you believe He was raised from the dead?” she asked. The woman laughed. “Hardly. But I don’t have to believe all that Bible stuff for my faith to be strong.”

Oh really? It’s fashionable to consider ourselves people of faith. It makes us appear more noble or spiritual. But faith in what? Faith in faith is of no more value than faith in pink unicorns. Faith in Buddha, Mohammed, or oneself is worthless. It can’t make us righteous before God. It can’t deal with our sin problem. Even faith in Jesus only counts if what we believe about Him is true. We don’t get to repackage Him the way we want. If He did not rise from the dead, Jesus is just another dead guru and certainly not worth worshiping. Faith in Christ must include His bodily resurrection from the dead or it is useless to save us.

Final Thought:  We must either accept the entire gospel of Jesus Christ and build our lives on it—or forget the whole thing.

Prayer: Lord, is my faith genuine? Have I built my life on the entire truth declared in your word? I believe you sent your Son into the world to die in my place and then you raised Him from the dead. My faith is in a risen Savior. In His name, amen.

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Thursday Simon Peter…noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then (John) went in, and he saw and believed…  John 20:6-8

John stood frozen at the entrance to the tomb, trying to process what he was seeing. He wasn’t there. Jesus wasn’t there. The tomb was open, the graveclothes still in the shape of a body, but He wasn’t there. Peter shoved past him and ran straight inside. He jerked to a stop and stared at the cold slab where they had laid Jesus only three days before. How could this be? The burial cloths lay like a headless mummy but there was nothing inside. He glanced wide-eyed at John and gestured with his head to the neatly-folded pile of linens that had bound Jesus’ head. Suddenly, it was real. That’s what He meant. He was alive!

In first-century Jewish culture, bodies had to be buried by nightfall. But they were first washed and wrapped in clean linen strips. Inside every wrap, loving hands placed herbs and spices to offset the smell of decay. Then the arms and legs were bound tightly together in mummified fashion and strips of linen were wrapped around the face to keep the jaw closed. So what Peter and John saw inside the tomb that morning was impossible. The burial cloths were still in the shape of a body, but the head cloth was folded beside them. If people had stolen the body, they would have taken the cloths too. If Jesus had somehow fought His way out of them, the cloths would be in a jumble on the floor. It was impossible for a dead body to escape the cloths without disturbing them. As two of His disciples struggled with what they were seeing, understanding hit like a lightning bolt. It was not just talk. Not just promises and veiled implications. It was real! Here was the proof. Jesus had risen from the dead! 

Final Thought: Jesus Christ rose from the dead—the most important piece of news you will ever hear. Has it changed you?

Prayer: Jesus, because you rose from the dead, I know I will be resurrected one day to be with you. Thank you for conquering death and having eyewitnesses write about it. May my life be a walking testimony of your resurrecting power. Amen.

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Fridayhe was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 1:4

“I can swim faster than anyone,” declared Ray. “Really? Where’s your proof?” asked Michael Phelps. “I have 23 gold medals.”

“I’m the best mountain climber in America,” stated Sue. “Really?” said Stacy Allison. “I’m the first woman to scale Mt. Everest.”

“I sing better than anyone,” said Rhonda. “Really? Prove it,” said Carrie Underwood. “I won American Idol and 7 Grammys.”

Anyone can claim to be the best. And anyone can claim absolute truth. Jesus claimed this: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “Really?” we might say.” Anyone can claim to be God. Where’s your proof?” So let’s look at the evidence. Dozens of messiahs have come and gone and they all had one thing in common: their bones are still rotting in graves. Jesus died like all the rest, but He did something that exceeded 23 gold medals and 7 Grammy awards. Three days later, this murdered Messiah rose from His grave. When someone rises from the dead—just like He said He would—we’d better listen to Him. He’s got proof. He said He would rise again and He did. What else did He say? He said we’re lost in our sin. We deserve Hell. But God loves us and paid our price. He’s ready to save. And He can do it. He proved it.

Final Thought:  Are you paying close attention to everything Jesus said? He earned the right to be believed.

Prayer: Father, thank you that I don’t have to try to decide which messiah is the real one. You showed us when you brought Jesus back to life and hundreds of witnesses saw Him. Because my Messiah conquered death, I can too. In His name, amen.