Bible Reading: Matthew 28:1-20
This chapter deals with death…the death of Jesus. What do you say to a child about death? It’s not an easy topic to discuss with them. So, I suggest…just go ahead and do it. They probably don’t have the same issues that you have with it, anyway. They haven’t learned yet, to let thoughts about death concern them. Be sensitive and understanding…and yet, be honest.
The real key for Christians…is that death is not final. It isn’t something to fear. In fact, a Biblical understanding of death can be quite liberating. If death is the most final, conclusive act that I will ever face in life…and Jesus has overcome death…then what else will I ever have to deal with in life that I need to be afraid of? That’s right…nothing. So, a clear understanding about the death and resurrection of Jesus…gives us hope, and peace, and confidence.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
I remember when I was a kid, my Dad had this on-going joke. You know the kind. One of those that he told many times, over and over…and each time, it was like he thought it was the first time he had ever told it to us. And on top of that…I’m not so sure that it was so funny the first time he told it. Let me tell it to you and you decide. Here goes. We’re riding down the road and pass by a cemetery. Dad sees it, a smile crosses his face and he asks, “Hey, do you know how many dead people are buried in that cemetery?” My sister, Mother, and I all look at each other, sigh, and then say, “No, Dad. How many dead people are buried in that cemetery?” To which he replies with glee, “All of them!” And then roars with laughter. So, what do you think? Is it funny? And you wonder where I got my rich sense of humor.
Every civilization, every city, every family that lives by themselves deep in the mountains…has some place where they bury people when they die. Some of them are famous, such as…
- the Great Pyramid in Egypt that was built over 2,500 years before Jesus lived and is 481 feet tall…in which the Pharaoh Khuf was buried;
- the Taj Mahal in India with its 115-foot marble dome which Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had built for his wife;
- the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor and the Terracotta Army in China where life-sized clay statues of 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses are buried along with the Emperor to provide him with an eternal guard;
- the Lenin Mausoleum in Russia where the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin has been on public display since 1924.
Many tombs, and mausoleums, and headstones have inscriptions written on them. Some of them are serious…but some of them are funny. I kind of like the funny ones. Surprised? For instance…
- one lady was well-known as a cook…so, they chiseled her recipe for chocolate fudge on her headstone;
- a comedian’s headstone has these words, “There goes the neighborhood”;
- a famous gunfighter’s tombstone says, “He never killed a man that did not need killing”;
- another tombstone says, “Man it’s dark down here”;
- a lady comedian’s tombstone says, “Excuse my dust”;
- a man’s tombstone says, “I told you I was sick”.
Now, this may sound a little strange…but I have a favorite graveyard. I love to go there. In fact, I love to take other people with me when I go there. And the really strange thing is that there is no one buried there. You see, it is the graveyard where they buried Jesus. It’s in Jerusalem, Israel, and every time I’m in Israel I go there. It is called the Garden Tomb.
The day that Jesus was crucified, some men took His body down from the cross and placed it in a tomb…that’s a place like a small room that has been cut out of rock. They rolled a great big rock in front of the door to keep anyone from getting in. But what they had not planned on was Jesus getting out. Early the next morning, there was an earthquake when a powerful angel rolled the stone away from the door…and Jesus walked out. He was alive. The next morning, when some of His disciples arrived to finish the burial process…He was gone. An angel appeared to the disciples and told them to not be afraid. He told them that he knew that they were looking for Jesus…but He was not there because He had risen from the dead…He had come back to life.
When you visit the Garden Tomb, you see a round doorway cut into the side of a rock hillside. I have to stoop over just a little bit to go through it. Once inside, do you know what you see? Nothing. He’s not there. He rose from the dead. It is an empty tomb.
As with the tombstones that I told you about before, there is a sign with an inscription on it that is placed over the doorway to the Garden Tomb, as well. I like what it says, “He is not here – for He is risen”.
Those words right there could be some of the most important words that you will ever, ever hear. “He is not here – for He is risen”. If those words are not true…then there is no forgiveness of sin, no hope of eternal life, no promise of Heaven. If those words are not true…then I will never see my Dad, or my Mom, again. If those words are not true…then I will never meet my little Granddaughter, who died, before she was born.
But please, listen to Granddad…they are true. Jesus did rise from the dead. He is alive. That was God’s plan. That was God’s plan to provide a way for us to be forgiven of our sin. Jesus would live a perfect, sinless life. As a result, He could then offer to pay for my sinful life with His sinless life. The payment for my sin…was His death. So, in order to pay for my sin, Jesus died. He died on the cross. Because of His death…my sin is forgiven. But Jesus didn’t stay dead…He wasn’t finished, yet. He came back to life. And this is His promise…that if I accept Him as my Savior, not only will my sins be forgiven, but one day, after I have died, I will rise from the dead, as well. And at that time, He will take me to Heaven where I will live forever with God. That is why the tomb is empty.
Say it with me…”He is not dead – He is risen”. Now, believe it with me. If you do…then one day, when all of us are dead and gone…we will see each other, again, in Heaven. There is nothing more important that you will ever hear your Granddad say…than that. “He is not dead – He is risen”. I believe it. Do you?
Love you more than bunches and bunches,