May 1, 2022

Without an Empty Tomb, the Wheels Come Off Our Faith

                Thirty-five years ago I bought a Ford 8N Tractor and a bush hog. My sons and I used it to cut grass on our 10-acre plantation. Actually, the primary tractor driver was my wife, Dean. She dearly loved using that little farm tractor. Years later, after selling eight of our ten acres, one acre at a time, we sold the tractor and bush hog because it was no longer needed.

                To connect the bush hog to the tractor, we used a linchpin. A linchpin may be used as a locking pin that can be inserted in the end of a shaft, such as an axle, to hold a wheel in place. Linchpins are not a recent invention. Centuries ago, the Celts used an iron and bronze linchpin to secure the wheel of a chariot to the fixed axle.

                The word has taken on new meaning in today’s language and is frequently used to mean “a central cohesive element.” Christians, for example, may assert that the resurrection of Jesus is the linchpin of Christianity. Without the foundational belief that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God, the wheels come off the Christian faith. Christianity without an empty tomb is a fraudulent religion. Without an empty tomb, the New Testament makes no sense.

                Our faith in Jesus Christ hinges on this central reality – Jesus was raised from the dead.

Had there been no resurrection of Jesus, there would have been no New Testament. There would have been no church born at Pentecost. There would have been no great witnesses, like Peter and Paul, whose primary message was that Jesus was the Messiah whom God had raised from the dead. The resurrection was the cohesive truth of their passionate preaching.

                Without a doubt the disciples believed it. They had seen Jesus crucified. They knew his dead body had been entombed. Unbelieving at first, their skepticism vanished when the risen Christ appeared to them, ate with them and invited them to touch his wounds. Not one of them spoke of having seen a ghost. Convinced that He was alive, they saddled up to “go make disciples.”

                All of us grapple with the fact that we shall die. I know I will die and at my age, I know my death will be soon and not late. Though the joy of living is precious to me, I settled the matter of my death some years ago. I settled it and found peace the day I decided for myself that the tomb was empty. My life has never been the same since the day I believed that “because He lives, I too shall live.” His gift of eternal life has already begun.

                God’s reward for my decision is a living hope in his unfailing love, a hope that is held securely in my mind and heart by the linchpin of Christianity – the resurrection of Jesus. He is alive. Hallelujah! + + +