Empty tomb declares you matter to God

Dr. David L. Chancey's picture

Two ladies in Massachusetts gave new meaning to the term birthday bash recently. A child’s birthday party at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant was cut short after a fight broke out between two mothers. Police said the mom of the nine-year-old birthday boy apparently became enraged because the other woman’s son was “hogging” an arcade game.

Catherine Aliaga, 38, and Tarsha Williams, 33, both of Boston, were charged with simple assault and battery. Be careful at Chuck E. Cheese. Not only do you have to endure squealing kids, but also have to be alert for mom’s gone mad.

Then there’s the guy from Brisbane, Australia, who went on what the Associated Press called a 12-hour siege, brandishing knives and taunting police to shoot him at his home. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to charges of going armed in public to cause fear.

The reason? No one phoned him on his birthday to wish him happy birthday. He thought nobody cared, that he didn’t matter.

If you wonder if anyone cares, then look at the cross and reflect on the empty tomb. Why did Jesus endure the suffering of the cross? Why did Jesus persevere through the betrayal, arrest, denial, mockery, whippings, ridicule?

The answer is found in John 3:16, the numbers of love: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God’s love was the driving force behind the cross and the empty tomb.

Think about whoever. Max Lucado writes, “Whoever unfurls 3:16 as a banner for the ages. Whoever unrolls the welcome mat of heaven to humanity. Whoever invites the world to God . . .”

Whoever is short word with a big meaning: whoever means you! Does God really care about me? Yes! You are whoever.

Think about whenever. Whenever you turn from your sin and turn to God through a relationship with Jesus Christ, God is standing there with open arms, waiting to receive you.

In his book, 3:16, Max Lucado shared about cleaning out his car and finding a restaurant gift card for $50. He was so excited about this discovery until he realized that the card had expired. Fifty dollars down the drain.

That reminded me of the time I tried to use an expired coupon at a fast food restaurant. They wouldn’t take it. I said, “Chick-fil-A honors their expired coupons.”

They said, “We’re not Chick-fil-A.”

I thought, “I noticed.”

Why does this outstanding business honor expired coupons? Because they value you and want satisfied customers. They want repeat business.

The good news is that God values you and God’s offer of eternal life never expires. God’s love never expires.

God gave Jesus, so you would not perish, but have the opportunity for eternal life. That’s what the empty tomb is all about.

Think about wherever. Wherever you are in your walk with God, God wants to draw you closer. If you have drifted and are not as close as you ought to be, you are not so far that you can’t come back to God. If you are seeking, God stands ready to receive you.

When Howard Thurman, the great theologian, educator and author, visited India, he preached in several villages. One poor boy from one of the villages was so touched that he hunted Thurman down and knocked on his door late one night.

Opening the door, he saw the little boy standing there, wearing clothes that indicated he was one of India’s untouchables.

“I listened to you today,” he said, “and I want to ask you, ‘can you give hope to a nobody?’”

Thurman shared with that little boy what many people need to hear today: “With God, there are no nobodies.”

That’s what the empty tomb declares: For God so loved the world. You matter to God.

Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them for the celebration of Easter this Sunday. Bible study begins at 9:45 a.m. Worship is 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org.

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