The stone rolled shut and there was darkness and death. Jesus’ body, lifeless, wrapped in linens filled with spices and a cloth over his face. The shouts of ‘Hosanna’ were still in the air as the crowd turned on Him crying out ‘Crucify Him!’ He died quickly. Pilate was surprised, and his legs did not need to be broken. (If the ones being crucified did not die quickly enough, the Roman soldiers would break their legs to keep them from being able to take deep breaths causing them to drown more quickly from the internal bleeding caused from their wounds.) The sky turned black. Jesus cried out, then it was over. A great movement, a great man with great love murdered by those He had come to save.
Their weapons were words. They lied about Him. They made false accusations. They mischaracterized to put him in a bad light. Have you ever been murdered by the lies people tell? Have your heart bled out from the false accusations, hatred, and jealousy of others. There is no real tomb nor is there a real stone rolled into place, but the darkness and death we feel in our spirit is real. What do you do when people turn on you and even your closest friends deny you?
The Good News is that Jesus did not stay in the tomb. The Bible tells us of resurrection power by which His Father in Heaven drew Jesus out of the grip of death. Preachers will shout that when Jesus died and rose again, He conquered sin, death, and Hell. And to be certain, He did! But we mustn’t be confused by the terminology. There was no battle. Jesus nor His Father in Heaven struggled. They did not break a sweat. They simply willed it to be so. There is no power in Heaven or Earth, neither the depths of Hell that could have stopped Christ from reviving His own body to return to life. This is resurrection power. It is so far beyond the power of the Enemy. He was helpless to stop the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This resurrection power is the same that is at work within us as believers of Jesus Christ. And when we find ourselves locked in the tombs of death, there is no power strong enough to keep us from running out of the grave. No devil, no witch, no hex, no momma, no daddy, no husband or wife, no job, no lie, no gossip, no angel can keep us locked in the tombs of our life. We have been filled with the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. It is only when we choose not to live in this power that we find ourselves stuck in the darkness of our own depression, anger, self-pity, jealousy, sadness.
When Christ came back to life, it would seem that He did so in the tomb. When the disciples ran into the tomb, they found the strips of linen laying there discarded. While the cloth that had been wrapped around his face in preparation for burial was folded up neatly. Jesus took special care to fold this piece of cloth while the strips of linen filled with spices were laid aside. These two things teach us much about how to put the resurrection power of Christ to work that we might come out of our graves.
As discussed in the previous blog, the strips of linen filled with spices represent our reputation. Jesus received 100 pounds of spices where the regular man might only receive one pound of spices. This was an indication of how much His followers thought of Him. At the same time, He was murdered because of so many hating Him. It is for this reason that we may discard what others think about us. We can not let what people think of us direct our life whether they are flattering us or demeaning us. We live for the audience of One, our Father in Heaven.
But the cloth that was folded reveals the second part of this truth. Most of the time when teachers or rabbis passed away, their face would be wrapped in their tallit or prayer cloth. These were fabricated according to Old Testament instruction with tassels on each corner. A tassel is made out of the fringes of fabric gathered together. The fringes along with the knots tied in the fringes within the tassels were to remind the people of the 613 Old Testament laws. It is a reminder that we must be in obedience to the Lord. But more than this, these were the prayer cloths. Jesus would have taken this cloth many times and pulled it up over his head for prayer. In doing this, teachers would tabernacle themselves with God in prayer, intimacy with the Father. This cloth, the symbol of intimacy and prayer with the Lord was honored while the linen with spices was set aside.
We tend to stay in our tombs because we honor the wrong things. We honor the linen with the spices. In this day an age of facebook, we want to see how many ‘likes’ we get or followers we have on Twitter. Not to demonize these, but this is a microcosm of our society and how we all live to please people. Or should we ever feel like we will never please people, we will live in defiance and rebellion to them. Either way, their opinion of us is dictating our life. But Jesus teaches that we should not give so much honor to what others think, but instead, it is our intimacy with the Father that we should honor.
The woman from Mark, chapter 5, with the issue of bleeding saw that Jesus was coming by and she thought to herself, “If I can just touch the hem of his garment, I will be healed.” The Hebrew word for ‘tassel’ is translated into the English word ‘hem.’ She was trying to touch these tassels on his prayer cloth.
Why didn’t she want to touch Him? Why His tassels? More than likely, it is because she had heard many times the words of the prophet:
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the Lord Almighty. (NIV 1984)
The Hebrew words for ‘fringes’ was tied closely to the words also translated into ‘rays’ and ‘wings.’ These tassels were sometimes referred to as the wings of God. This woman believed these tassels to be the wings from which healing would come. Again, these represent our prayer life. This woman fought through the crowds to touch the tassels. When was the last time you had a fighting attitude about your prayer life? When was the last time that you were willing to fight through your crowded calendar and your events so pressed in to make sure you had time for prayer, worship, meditation, and intimacy with the Lord?
I really don’t even like asking the question because I convict myself. But this is the key to coming out of the tombs of God. Intimacy with the Lord brings power for healing, power for freedom, and power for the future. Take some time right now and carve out some time for prayer and intimacy with God and get ready to run out of your grave.
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