I love Easter. I love the celebratory music we sing at church. I love the passages of Scripture we read during worship. And most of all, I love the visual image of the empty tomb. I’m deeply persuaded that the empty tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ reveals three fundamental character qualities about God.
First, it reveals to us that God is FAITHFUL. Centuries earlier, after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, God promised that he would crush wrong once and for all. So he sent his Son to defeat sin and death by his crucifixion and resurrection.
For thousands of years God neither forgot nor turned from his promise. He didn't grow weary, nor would he be distracted. He made a promise, and he controlled the events of history (large and small) so that at just the right moment, Jesus Christ would come and fulfill what had been promised.
But the empty tomb also reveals to us that God is POWERFUL. He's powerful in authority and he's powerful in strength. Think of the authority you would have to have to control all the situations, locations, and relationships in order to guarantee that Jesus would come at the precise moment and do what he was appointed to do!
Also, could there be a more pointed demonstration of power than to have power over death? By God’s awesome power, Jesus took off his grave clothes and walked out of that tomb. Those guys in power-lifting competitions may be able to pull a bus with their teeth, but they'll all die, and there's nothing they can do about it.
The empty tomb points us to one more amazing thing. It reveals to us that God is WILLING. Why would he go to such an extent to help us? Why would he care to notice us, let alone rescue us? Why would he ever sacrifice his own Son? Because he is willing.
You and I need to recognize that his willingness was motivated not by what he saw in us but by what is inside of him. He's willing because he's the definition of mercy. He's willing because he's the source of love. He's willing because he's full of amazing grace. He's willing because he's good, gentle, patient, and kind. Even when we're unwilling, full of ourselves, and wanting our own way, he's still willing. He delights in transforming us by his grace. He delights in rescuing us by his powerful love.
These are beautiful and riveting truths, but we need to have a moment of honesty. It's going to be very easy, come Sunday, to celebrate these truths. But what happens on Tuesday, after the celebration of Easter has died down? What happens on Tuesday, when you're sinned against or when the fallen world breaks your door down? What happens on Tuesday, when the things that God calls sinful start to look powerfully attractive and appealing again?
Don’t lash out, run away, or surrender. Stand in your weakness and confusion and say, “I am not alone. God is with me, and he is faithful, powerful, and willing.” You can be realistic and hopeful at the very same time. Realistic expectations aren't about hope without honesty, and they're not about honesty without hope. Realism is found at the intersection of unabashed honesty and uncompromising hope. God’s Word and God’s grace make both possible in your everyday life.