Stone Cold Truth about the Grave, Grace, and Honor

Up close to a large gray stone in natural surroundings


We may not think of Jesus’ tomb as a tomb of honor, but it was. It was prepared with honor, it was sacrificed with honor, and Jesus was buried in it with honor. But it was not honor that led Him there. The death of Jesus was a death of mockery, deceit, divisiveness, lies, misunderstanding, and, especially, hatred, retaliation, and pain. But this was all part of God’s gracious plan to restore us into His fellowship.




Amazing grace led Jesus to the cross. It’s a story known across the globe and through the ages. We can be saved because of God’s amazing grace. Grace ushered Jesus to the cross and to His earthly grave. By grace we are saved through faith, by grace we enjoy a personal relationship with Christ, and by grace we serve a resurrected Lord.


How could someone spread His arms so open with love,
and leave them extended
to take the blows of torture, of humiliation, of rejection
...even rejection from His Father?

How can someone’s love be so perfect?

In astonished wonder, we say,
“Thank you, Jesus, for loving me,
a sinner so undeserving
…a sinner so unaware
…a sinner so hopeless.”



Looking ahead to Easter, let’s think about Jesus’ tomb, the truth of grace that is so critical, and how much we honor His sacrifice.


Have we allowed Jesus’ final resting place to be a tomb,
or is He alive in our hearts?


The grave. Dark. Cold. Somber.
We think of loss. We ache.
The tomb. Stone. This is where they laid His body.
A tomb carved out of a rock.


Our hearts were once like stone, as Ezekiel 11:19 puts it. Hearts of stone that rejected God. Dead in all its transgressions and shortcomings. Like a rock:  cold, without the promise of life, and impenetrable.


But, like the tomb, our hearts were carved out to make room for Jesus.


A cave burrowed out of the face of a rocky mountainside

We didn’t carve out our hearts with any kind of personal quest to reach God or to find spirituality. We didn’t carve them out with academic research and archeology, or with scientific or literary proofs. No, we didn’t carve out our hearts at all. By grace, God cut through our hearts of stone to make room for Jesus.

The Savior wants to transform our rocky hearts to be His home of honor.

Is He at home in our hearts?


We naturally set aside our hearts for our own purposes, but because of grace, we can offer them in sacrifice and prepare them with honor to be a home for Jesus.  We can prepare our stony hearts to be venues fit for a King.


We must honor Jesus as King, or we bury His truth.

A Jewish Councilman named Joseph was different than his fellow Council members. Before Jesus was crucified, Joseph had God’s approval and he was a follower of Christ awaiting His kingdom. And he honored Him greatly after His horrific crucifixion.

  • He boldly asked Pilate for Jesus’ body
  • He wrapped Jesus’ body with clean linen and spices
  • He placed Jesus’ body in a tomb he had originally purchased for himself



If Joseph followed suit with the Jewish Council, he would have been an adversary to Jesus. The religious leaders wanted to bury Jesus’ message along with His body, never to hear from Him again. They wanted to bury the truth with their Messiah. And to seal the deal, they tamper-proofed the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66).

The religious leaders rejected the truth when they should have known enough to proclaim it.

They believed in themselves when they should have trusted the Messiah. And with an abundance of resources, they implemented a plan to bury Jesus and His truth in a forever grave.


Joseph, on the other hand, gave of his precious resources to offer Jesus a venue of honor – a grave fit for a King.


The King died to be our Savior.


We must honor Jesus as Savior, because we don’t deserve His grace.

Can we truly understand the depth of the decision Jesus made to go to the cross on our behalf?

Before we trusted Christ as our Savior, we were separated from God and helpless. It is as if we were in the grave. In the grave we no longer have life. We don’t wake up to welcome another day. There’s nothing we can do to change the situation. We are utterly helpless. Ephesians 2:1 puts it simply: "we were already dead." At the end of verse 3 we read that, “by nature,” we are “deserving of wrath.” This was our spiritual condition.


Like the religious leaders who tried to bury God’s truth in the grave, there is an organized effort to keep unbelievers spiritually dead. Read Ephesians 2:1-2:


As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world
and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air,
the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.


Now, if we are in a war against spiritual death, how can we win when we’ve already lost?  If we’re already spiritually dead, and in the grave, how can we step back into life?


We can’t.


But Jesus conquered death, and by God’s grace, we enjoy the benefits of His victory. We are undeserving, yet Christ died for us. The Savior gave His life so we don’t have to lose ours. This is grace. (See Ephesians 2:1-9.)


Consider 2 Timothy 1:9b-10:

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus,
who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.


We experience God’s grace not only as a result of God’s love for us.  It comes with deep, deep compassion, forgiveness, and a desire for relationship – a restored relationship.

God’s grace burrowed through the “cravings of our flesh” (Ephesians 2:3), those cravings that ultimately rejected the love of the Father. We enjoy a grace that approved of us in the Garden of Eden, even though God was fully aware of His impending disappointment and heartache when we would desecrate all that He proclaimed to be good. And we are recipients of a grace that bolstered the plan to sacrifice God’s Son – a sacrifice of both the Father and the Son, wrought with a variety of emotions.

God honored us with His grace. We deserved His wrath and we received His grace (Ephesians 2:1-3 and 8-9). We were spiritually dead – without hope – and new life was breathed into us.


So, we live to honor our Savior, because of His grace.


Ephesians 2:10 says, “…we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.



What will we do with the Savior’s tomb?
How will we respond to the grace that penetrated our hearts of stone?
Will we bury the truth or honor our Savior and King?

Joseph took a bold step forward when he asked for the body of Jesus. He stood before a Roman governor to request the body, and he came out of secrecy to announce to his world that he followed Jesus. What steps can we take to demonstrate to our world that we follow and honor Jesus?

  • We are disciples of Jesus. How do we sometimes behave like His adversary?
  • How public are we with our faith?
  • Do we use our resources to serve Christ, or are they a disservice to the One who sacrificed it all?
  • Are we more concerned about self-preservation, or do we step out and make ourselves vulnerable?


If you don’t know where to begin, try posting this simple note on your social feeds:

"Thank you, God, for Jesus, my Savior and King, a gift of your amazing grace."

Maybe this can ignite into something big.



**This post was adapted from Session 1 of Resurrecting Grace. For a deeper dive into grace, including God’s purpose for grace in our lives, pick up the Leader Guide at Amazon for a 5-session solo or group study (available in Kindle and print). If you do, you may experience Easter differently this year.



Read more blog posts here. Or read more about God's gift of salvation here.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Comments

  1. Your words are so uplifting, Stephen! This is a beautiful testimony to power of God's grace to cut through the rock of the tomb and the rock of our stone cold hearts, transforming us into believers, new people with hearts of flesh, rather than hearts of stone. This captures it: "We experience God’s grace not only as a result of God’s love for us. It comes with deep, deep compassion, forgiveness, and a desire for relationship – a restored relationship." That restored relationship makes us into new people, the Holy Spirit transforming us into the image of Christ. Great Easter post! Great reflection for every day of our lives!

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    1. Being entirely incapable of even approaching God, only God can penetrate our hearts. Such grace. Such a wonderful Father. Thank you for your thoughts and for reading. Happy Easter to you and your extended family. God's richest blessings to you all.

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  2. I love this, Stephen! Your words really opened my heart further to the message and importance of Easter. As you write, "like the tomb, our hearts were carved out to make room for Jesus." Amen, amen!

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    1. This is so good to hear, Jessica. I'm glad this is meaningful for you. Have a great Easter!

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  3. Encouraging teaching even as you speak convicting truth!

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    1. Thank you, Ava. I'm glad this was encouraging to you.

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  4. Thank you for sharing. Indeed, to bury the tomb is to bury the Gospel. There is a reason good Friday is good.

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    1. Yes, Candace. We cannot bury the Gospel. Jesus is risen!

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  6. A beautiful gift of praise to Jesus. Your love for him shines through these wise words. Thank you for sharing these thoughts on the depths of the Easter sacrifice and the state of our hearts.

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    1. Hi Stephanie. I have a hugely imperfect love for our Savior, but, yes, now that you mention it, this post is a tribute of worship and love for Him. A response of sacrifice for His sacrifice. Thank you for reflecting on that. Happy Easter to you and your family.

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  7. I love the picture that God carves out our hearts to make room for Him. I know I behave like Christ's adversary more than I'd like to admit. My prayer is to have a soft heart to His truth and make room for Him each and every day!

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    1. I behave like His adversary all too often, too, Emily. I'm thankful for God's grace and mercy and they way He softens my heart as time passes. He never stops reaching deep. Oh, how we need Him. Thanks.

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  8. Good points and fresh insight, Stephen. I've never thought of Jesus tomb as a place of honor. And when we consider our present culture (in how they see Easter or Christ), and even Christ-followers, this is worth reflection, "Have we allowed Jesus’ final resting place to be a tomb, or is He alive in our hearts?"

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    1. Yes, I never thought of His tomb as a place of honor - a tomb fit for a King - until I paid more attention to Joseph. He really did stick his neck out to honor the Messiah whom he followed first secretly, and finally publicly. I hope more hearts can make room for Him and allow Him to live there as King!

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  9. Wow! What amazing grace! I was dead but now am found!

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    1. Amen, Julie. God in His amazing grace found us, saved us, transformed us. And later in the Easter story as Jesus finished off his ministry on earth, God, in His grace, gave us purpose and the charge to follow Him in obedient sacrifice.

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  10. Wow! What a powerful, emotional, captivating article on the sacrifice of Jesus. You engaged my heart anew, with the wonder of what Jesus has done for me. Excellent post!

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    1. What a blessing to hear, Melissa. Jesus has done so much for us and we have no hope without Him. He is everything to us and He deserves our service in return. Thank you for reading and God bless you richly.

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  11. A beautiful look at the grave especially as we enter this Easter season. Thanks

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    1. It was a grave fit for a King. But praise God, the grave could not hold Him. We serve a risen and victorious Savior! Happy Easter to you and your family.

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  12. I pray we remember His love for us, not just on Easter, but every moment of every day.

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    1. Praise God. His grace extends to every day and to eternity! And we will see Him face to face someday soon.

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  13. Wow this is a beautiful and powerful message Stephen of how much God loves us and His amazing Grace.He chose us when He didnt have to.Giving Him praise and Glory! Thank you for this wonderful encouragement it truly blessed me.

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    1. I'm glad it is meaningful for you, Sydell. Praise and glory and perfect responses to God's grace and all that He does for us. Thank you for your encouraging comment and for reading. Happy Easter to you and your extended family.

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