Resurrection Day: The Empty Tomb.

Each of the four gospels provides us with a picture of Christ, our Savior. Matthew depicts Jesus as the kingly Lion; in Mark’s gospel, Jesus is the laboring Ox; Luke describes Jesus as the Son of Man; and John’s portrays Jesus as the soaring Eagle, the Son of God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 9-14)
In John 1:29, John the Baptist, on seeing Jesus approaching from the other side of the river, cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, but Jesus came to offer us baptism in his blood, unto salvation. He knew that it was his mission not only to die in our place, but to conquer death, once, and for all who believe in his name. After Jesus initiated his ministry by turning water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-12), he and his disciples went up to the temple in Jerusalem:
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.  And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.  (John 2:13-22)

Directly after this, John’s gospel eavesdrops on one of the most significant conversations in history:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1-8)
John’s gospel guides us through a progression in chapters one, two, and three where first, Jesus is identified as the Word who was with God from the beginning and from whom all things were created, full of grace and truth. In chapter two, we witness Jesus perform his first miracle, turning water into wine as a celebration of marriage, fidelity, and joy. Closing chapter two, Jesus prophesied his resurrection from the dead. When his disciples remembered this, they believed that Jesus is the Son of God. Finally in chapter three, Jesus reveals the promise of his mission to the “hidden disciple,” Nicodemus:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (3:16-18).
He instructs Nicodemus that to enter the kingdom of God, we must be born again. And the only way that we can be born again is through belief in the only Son of God and his redeeming power over sin and death. Christ’s victory over sin and death occurred at the cross, and its testimony is the empty tomb. Because Jesus paid for all our sins at the cross, we who believe are redeemed. Because Jesus died and rose again, we who believe have eternal life. We live because he lives.

As John wrote in his first epistle, Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:15-20)
Jesus instructed Nicodemus that whoever believes in him is not condemned. John reminds us that God abides forever in those who believe. This is the promise of eternal life, forged in the perfect love that casts out fear.
John 3:16 is the most well-known verse in the Bible, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” But the verses that follow after clarify why verse 16 is so important:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (vv. 17-21)
To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must come into the light and be born again. Not so that we would be condemned by the light, but so that by the loving sacrifice of the Light of the World we can be saved from all condemnation.

Beloved Friends, it does not matter how far you may have strayed, or how dark and deep your sin. Jesus went to the cross, died, and rose again, for you. His resurrection is the promise of our eternal life:
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:1-7)
Friend, if you feel like a lost sheep, the Good Shepherd is stooping down from heaven to receive you, right now.
If the miracle of salvation has touched your heart, and you feel the Holy Spirit drawing you into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, to receive Him into your life as your Lord and Savior, then please pray this sweet prayer of salvation with me:
Dear God, I believe with all of my heart that Jesus died on the cross for my sake, and that He has risen from the dead for my deliverance. Lord, I receive your Word, and I repent of my sins.  I receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. I receive Your complete forgiveness and my new birth into Your kingdom. I receive Your Holy Spirit to guide me and teach me, and I make You the Lord of my life. I receive salvation in the holy name of Jesus, today and forever. Amen.
If you prayed this prayer from your heart today, then you have been cleansed of all of your sins and born again into new life through Jesus Christ, and we are so happy for you! We suggest that you find a copy of God's Word and begin reading with the Gospel of John in the New Testament. Please consider visiting a Bible-based church in your area and let them know that you have recently received salvation, so that you can enjoy fellowship with other believers and ask any questions that you may have. We are praying for you, we love you, and God bless you, in Jesus' name.
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