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HE IS NOT HERE!

Sounds of joy, voices of praise, expressions of laughter and happiness, songs of worship, reverence and peace, and moments of quiet solemnity have all hopefully made their way into our thoughts, activities , hearts and lives this Holy Week! I trust a deepening commitment to love and worship Jesus has become our new resolve. I pray that a strong and awesome reverence for the ONE who was dead and is alive now and forevermore has impacted us anew!

Our renewed commitment will just have to manifest itself! Thus, we sing, worship, pray, praise and verbally attest to our love for our Savior and Lord.

I once wandered through a graveyard which had been there many years. I observed with some interest the tombstones and old monuments erected to the memory of loved ones. One heading seemed to be inscribed on many of them - "Here Lies". Then followed the name, date of birth and death, and perhaps some brief note of the good qualities of the deceased.

But how different is the epitaph on the tomb of Jesus. It is not inscribed in wood or stone. It is spoken by the mouth of angels, and is the exact opposite of what was placed on those tombstones of old. The glorious epitaph is "HE IS NOT HERE"!

What power, assurance, encouragement, blessing and cause for worship in these words! Early on the first day of the week (Sunday) some women went to Jesus' grave to anoint His body with burial spices. "But when they entered (the tomb) they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were very perplexed about this, behold two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And . . .the men (angels) said to them 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? HE IS NOT HERE, but has risen. . . .'" (Luke 24:3-6) As these verses declare, Jesus was not in the grave, He was not dead, He was not confined by the tomb-

stones of men. "And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb." (Luke 24:2) The stone was rolled away not to let Jesus out, but to let His followers in (to see and believe)! Jesus was not chained by the shackles of sin and the devil. ". . . he was buried, he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and he appeared. . . ." (I Corinthians 15:4) The Apostle Paul further proclaims: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin. . . ." (I Corinthians 15:54-56) The writer of Hebrews said: ". . .through death he (Jesus) destroyed the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil." (Hebrews 2:14-15) Jesus, Himself, told Martha, prior to raising Lazarus from the dead: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die" (spiritually). (John 11:25-26) Also, the Scripture says: "And now he (God) has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He (Jesus) broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News ." (II Timothy 2:10 - NLT)

Now, let's go back to the angels' announcement on that Resurrection Morning. The living was not seen among the dead. Jesus was not in the tomb; He was risen from the grave, just as He told His followers before His crucifixion. We remember the eternal words of Jesus recorded for us in Scripture.

He told of His suffering. "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things. . .and be killed." (Matthew 16:21) He told of His coming death. "The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. . . ." (Matthew 17:22-23) He declared His resurrection from the dead. ". . .he will be raised the third day." (Matthew 16:21; 17:23)

HE IS NOT HERE is the message of Christ's glorious resurrection! This is the foundation of our Christian Faith! Without His resurrection, we have no salvation, no hope, no forgiveness of sin, no peace or reconciliation with God, no divine promises, no eternal life, no heaven, no victory over sin or the grave, etc. However, because of His death and resurrection, we have ALL of these things!

I want to conclude this blog by focusing on another truth, so practical and encouraging! HE IS HERE! Jesus assured us: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20 - KJV) Jesus promised: "I must go away. . .I will send you another Comforter (Advocate, Helper, Counselor, Strengthener - THE HOLY SPIRIT)." (John 16:7) Jesus said The Holy Spirit would dwell within us. We read in the Scripture: "It is Christ Jesus that died, yes, rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God (the Father), who also makes intercession for us." (Romans 8:34-35 - ASV)

And again, "Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)

No wonder Bill and Gloria Gaither penned these words of song:

"Because He lives, we can face tomorrow,

Because He lives, all fear is gone,

Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because HE LIVES."

"Because I live, you also will live"! This is the promise of the Resurrected Christ! (John 14:19)

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God has blessed me with a long and fruitful ministry! I have over 40 years in pastoral ministry, retreat speaking, Evangelism, teaching and Christian Radio broadcasting.

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