This story is headlined with the words, “Jesus’ Tomb Opened for First Time in Centuries.”
I know what they’re trying to say, but my first thought was, “Jesus’ tomb hasn’t been closed in nearly 20 centuries.”
Humanity has a habit of desiring material spiritual shrines (almost sounds like an oxymoronic statement there). We seek to make the intangible something tangible.
I’m not saying God has never asked his people to make something that is physically visible and spiritually important at the same time. God indeed directed the children of Israel (and several others before them when it came to altars) to build the Tabernacle and all of its complementing features such as the altar, the washing basin and the rest of the furniture that went inside the most important tent that fleshly Israel traveled with from the wilderness right into the promised land. But God had a purpose for the Tabernacle’s meaning that went far beyond what could be seen with the eyes. And that purpose was fulfilled after God-in-the-flesh came and tabernacled among his people in person, and then atoned for their’s and our sins, ultimately leaving behind an empty tomb that has refused to be closed two millennia.
My point is that when it comes to us (as spiritual Israel), God has not asked his people to make a shrine out of any supposed “holy-site” today. God has not asked for this because we do not need this. And the reason we do not this is because our holy-site is a sight that has yet to be beheld.
“Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:6-12 -NKJV)
One of my favorite things to think about while reading the Bible is how ordinary people would do ordinary things only to have it used in an extraordinary way at the end. Case in point is one man who was named Joseph of Arimathea.
We don’t know much about this man. He’s only mentioned 3 or 4 times by name. And there are only a hand full of recorded words that describe him, his past and his experiences with Jesus. But there’s one thing that’s recorded about him that I find simply captivating. And that’s how God used this man to accomplish a feat that’s still turning the world upside down.
After Jesus’ crucifixion and death upon the cross, the Bible says, “Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.” (Matthew 27:57-60) I like how Matthew adds that Joseph laid Jesus in a tomb that he himself had carved out of the rock. I don’t know how long it took Joseph to do this. I don’t know how many times he would have busted up his knuckles. I don’t know how old he was when he finished his work. But I’d say it’s safe to say that Joseph probably never thought of anyone else but him laying down inside of it!
If Joseph only knew what would happen with his tomb, and how God would take something done by an ordinary man in an ordinary way and use it to reveal something most extraordinary, do you think he would’ve thought differently about it while cutting it out? Probably so. But either way, I bet this man never looked at Isaiah 53 or at any other tomb in the same way after Jesus came walking out of his!
“And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9)
Not that a person has to or anything, but I was wondering if you have ever seen anybody wear an empty tomb around their neck before?
“And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’” (Acts 13:32-35, NKJV)