Sepulchre With No Stone

“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.”–John 20:1

As we have heard in numerous sermons, this verse, along with the first few verses of Matthew 28, Mark 16, and Luke 24, gives the account of Mary Magdalene and her companions’ discovery of the empty tomb. In the following verses, we see the reaction of the disciples to the news followed by Jesus’ appearance among them. This is the culmination of prophecy and the fulfillment of God’s promise. There is no other point in history that could be called THE Game-changer. With the death of Jesus on the cross, His internment in the borrowed tomb, and triumphant resurrection on the third day, mankind gained direct access to the Throne of God. But this week’s verse is more than a great opening line.

One of the first things about Mary Magdalene’s trip to the sepulchre that we see is the time. She, along with other women, came early on the first day of the week. They were so anxious to go to where Jesus’ body lay, they didn’t even wait for the sun to rise. Their only concern was how they were going to roll the stone away that covered the opening of the tomb. Of course, they had yet to discover what awaited them.

Too often, we want to wait until things aren’t looking so dark before we are ready to go to Jesus; unfortunately, that means many won’t go to Him at all. We believe waiting until it gets light will help us see the obstacles in our path and, therefor, make it easier for us to overcome these obstacles. It is easy to forget we are to walk by faith. Mary and the others didn’t wait until daylight so they could see the stone, they went believing the stone would be taken care of once they reached the tomb. When they arrived, the women realized their one obstacle they had feared had already been taken care of.

We all have to deal with darkness of some sort at one time or another in our lives, and we are unsure of the obstacles in our path the darkness might conceal. When we step out on faith and begin to come to Jesus when it is dark, we often discover that the obstacles we were dreading to face have already been removed.

This Easter season, as we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, let us remember it is never too early to come to Him. Whether you have yet to accept Him into your life, or have walked with Him for some time, He is there to help you past any obstacles you encounter. Isn’t it time we start walking by faith and not by sight?

May God richly bless you is our prayer.

Tomb Of Fear And Joy

Tomb Of Fear And Joy

     1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

      5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

–Matthew 28:1-8

Profaned Altar Made Of Cut Stone

Profaned Altar Made Of Cut Stone

“And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it.”–Exodus 20:25

We start out this morning with a warning from God to Moses concerning the building of an altar. God desired an altar of uncut stones—stones in their natural state, not profaned by man. When something is profaned, it’s sacredness is no longer pure and man reveals his contempt for God.

Take, for example, language. Language is a gift of God, intended to allow the communication between people. This gift, like many do, came with certain stipulations. God said not to take His name in vain, and not to tell lies. When we do so, we have profaned God’s gift. Since I have already broached the subject of profaning language, let’s go a little farther. If the words crossing your lips are the same as the profanity used by an unbeliever, remember Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

God intended for the altar to be a place of sacrifice, of unity, a place of protection, and a memorial. Last Sunday’s verse, Genesis 8:20 spoke of Noah building the altar and making sacrifices of the clean animals and birds. In verse 21, we read of God’s reaction to these sacrifices. “And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imaginations of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.” If Noah were not a righteous man, then his offerings would not have been accepted by God.

In Deuteronomy 12:5-7, God tells His people what to do once they have destroyed the temples and places of worship of their enemies. “But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all the tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there shall you go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the first born of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.”

Our quote Thursday by Joseph de Maistre spoke of civilization being found wherever there was an altar. This is what these verses are saying. Once God chose the place for the tribes to gather, He made sure there was an altar. It was to be a place of offerings and sacrifices and a place where the people came together to eat. If the Israelites would have taken it upon themselves to choose their gathering place and built the altar of their choice, God would not have blessed them.

In Exodus 21:14, we read of the protection of the altar. “But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.”  Nothing nor no one has authority at the altar save God. The children of Israel knew this. They also knew that if they killed a man while he was under God’s protection, they would be just as guilty as he was.

Often, an altar was built to remind future generations of an important event concerning God that took place in that spot. Isaac built one in Genesis 26:25 after being visited by God. “So he built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord, and he pitched his tent there; and Isaac’s servants dug a well.”

In our lives, we see these same intentions God had for the altar. It is at the altar where we bow down and make ourselves an offering to God. We gather at the altar with our brothers and sisters in Christ to find fellowship and strength. As long as we go to the altar with a sincere heart, God will protect us from the Satan’s wiles. And it is at the altar where we remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

We are a lot like the stone altar from our opening verse. Just as God wanted it uncut and natural, that is how He wants us to come to Him. If we try to cut off our rough edges and clean ourselves up before we surrender to God, it’s like saying Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t sufficient enough to do the job. By trying to help God save us, we are saying we don’t trust Him to do it by Himself. God wants us to come filled with our sins—our rough edges—so that we can confess each of them to Him. Once we do this, He will take away our sins. Then He can begin to smooth our rough edges until we are, at last, a new creature in Him.

The Altar By George Herbert

The Altar By George Herbert

A broken ALTAR, Lord, thy servant rears,
Made of a heart and cemented with tears;
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workman’s tool hath touch’d the same.
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow’r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame
To praise thy name.
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
Oh, let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine.