Something to agree on ...
March 21 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Something to agree on ... | Friday, March 22, 2002

Friday, March 22, 2002

Something to agree on ...

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Easter is my favorite time of the year and not just because spring is returning, with its fresh warmth and bright flowers and verdant greenery (along with thunderstorms, tornadoes and pollen). I love the Easter season simply because it is Easter, and no day on the calendar is more important to Christian believers - nothing is more central to our faith and our reason for being as a church than the belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

I love the Easter story in all of its varied manifestations. None of the gospels tell the story in entirely the same way - none agree in every point about the events of that blessed morning. They remember differently the number of women who were present, for instance, or what they saw, where they went and what they said afterward.

There is one thing, however, on which all three gospels agree: when those devoted women came to the tomb, Jesus was gone. He wasn't there. No cold body stretched out in the niche so carefully cut into the limestone. No smell of death or decay. No sign of the One they had so carefully laid in the tomb on Friday afternoon.

The gospels agree that the tomb was empty, and they also agree on one other amazing fact: everybody was surprised. The women were clearly alarmed. Mary collapsed in tears when she thought someone had stolen Jesus' body. When the women told their story to the male disciples, not one of them believed it was true. Despite the fact that Jesus' entire ministry had been about life and not death, despite the gospel witness that Jesus had clearly predicted not only his death but also his resurrection, despite the many ways Jesus had already demonstrated His power over death and evil, none of his companions expected Him to walk out of that tomb.

But He did.

Surely, had we been there, we would have been just as skeptical and just as surprised when the women came running back with the news that Jesus was no longer dead.

But, the important thing is not whether we would have believed the women's story - the important thing is that their report was true. Their testimony lies at the heart and soul of our Christian faith: when the stone rolled away from Jesus' tomb, the door to eternal life opened for us, as well.

I find it interesting that Matthew's gospel is careful to point out - twice - that Jesus told the women to inform the men that they could find Him in Galilee (Matt. 28:7, 10). Did you ever wonder why?

In a sense, Galilee was the closest thing Jesus had to a "home." But, the Galilee of Jesus' day was also an international community. There were Jewish towns and villages such as Nazareth and Capernaum. There were strongly Hellenistic cities such as Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee, Sepphoris in the central hill country, and Ceasarea Maritima by the Mediterranean Sea. There was the entire region of Samaria, where a large population of Samaritans lived in towns like Sychar and Sebaste.

Jesus' ministry stretched far beyond the narrow confines of Judaism, so He departed from Jerusalem and went into Galilee, pointing to the larger world He had come to save. It was there that Jesus gathered His followers and told them to go into all nations and make disciples throughout the world (Matt. 28:19-20).

If you look for Jesus, you won't find Him in any tomb. If you want to find Jesus, go to "Galilee," go to any corner of the world, for wherever you find people in need, you will find the Savior who loves them and died for them and rose to give them victory over the grave.

Jesus has gone there ahead of us, and He bids us to follow Him in living, in loving and serving, in dying and living again.

That's something even Baptists should agree on.

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3/21/2002 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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