Stone Cold Truth about the Grave, Grace, and Honor

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 astonishing 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.

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 stones 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 a venue 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

(See Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:42-46, Luke 23:50-53, and John 19:38-42.)

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.  (See 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.

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