Samuel Rodriguez is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). He earned his Masters Degree from Lehigh University and received Honorary Doctorates from Northwest, William Jessup and Baptist University of the Americas. He serves as Senior Pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, California, where he resides with his wife, Eva, and their three children.
John 21:1: "While it was still dark, Mary ran towards an empty tomb." While it was still dark. Not when things were pristine and perfect, but in the darkest hour, a woman named Mary had the audacity, the faith to run while it was still dark. It's what we do in the darkest hour that defines us. While it was still dark, everyone else, of course, in the confines of their homes, rested. Yet this woman was so taken back--actually launched forward--by her encounter with Jesus, that she was willing to run towards His tomb.
We live in a dark hour. We live in the midst of a global pandemic, COVID-19. It's dark outside. It's dark over the entire canopy of humanity. The world is dark right now, but the empty tomb should prompt you and I to do nothing less than to run. To go to the place where we understand completely that Christ has risen. The tomb is empty. With that fact, we can change the world around us. Because He lives, that empty tomb is not an idea, is not a human construct. That empty tomb is the most powerful, empowering element in my reality and your reality. In the matter of fact, the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:11 that the same identical spirit--not a tangential spirit, not a kindred spirit, not a similar spirit--but the same identical spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, lives inside of us. Inside every single person who has called upon the name of the Lord as Savior and King. Because He lives, we understand not only that the tomb is empty. Because He lives, we understand that what Jesus did cannot be undone.
Hebrews 9:12: "With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the most Holy place once and for all and secured our redemption forevermore." Ladies and gentlemen, it's not about what we do for God. It's about what God already did for us. He came down so we can get up. He defeated darkness so we can be light. He died so we can live. He said, "It is finished, so we can get started." He came out of the tomb so you and I can come out of sin, failure and captivity and change the world around us. For what Jesus did cannot be undone. Because He lives, we understand that what He did on the cross and through His resurrection—wasn't good for a season, wasn't good just for the early church, the early centuries—it is good according to Hebrews 10:12, for all time.
What does this mean? It means that when Jesus died, your past died. Not for a day, but forevermore. When Jesus died, your sins died. Not for an hour, but forevermore. When Jesus died, your hell died forever. When Jesus died, your captivity died forever. When Jesus died, that abuse, that shame, that condemnation, your failures, my failures died forevermore. And when He rose, when He resurrected, when He got up, your salvation came to life. Your deliverance came to life. Your healing came to life. Your light, your peace, your miracle, your eternity, your destiny came to life. The cross ... The cross put a seal on your past, the empty tomb secured your future.
That's why today ... Today is not just any day, this resurrection Sunday, even in the midst of this darkness prompting you and I to spiritually, emotionally, relationally run towards the empty tomb. This is not just any day. This is not Valentine's Day, this is not St Patrick's Day, it's not Memorial Day, it's not Labor Day, it's not Flag Day, it's not Halloween, it's not even the 4th of July. This is Resurrection Day. This is much more than a holiday. It is a Holy day. And with great due deference, it's less about a bunny that hops, and it's more about the lamb that died and resurrected. It's not just about basket full of sweets. It's about an empty tomb that's full of hope. Because He lives, this is what I learned from what Jesus did for us 2,000 years ago. That your debt season and my debt season come to an end. The moment we realize that the tomb is empty, simply stated, because He lives, your debt season, my debt season, is over. I know we're living in a dark time, but I want you to hear me. The tomb is empty.
We're in the midst of a global pandemic, but the tomb is still empty. Economic markets are failing and falling across the land, but the tomb is still empty. There is panic, angst, consternation and flux throughout humanity in the year 2020, but here's the good news. No, let me correct myself. Here's the great news. The tomb is still empty, and because that tomb is empty, your heart can be filled right here, right now with the love, the grace, the hope, the peace that can only come through Christ.
Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected. We are saved by His grace, washed by His blood, filled with His spirit, delivered by His truth, healed by His wounds, secured in His hands, empowered by His name, and defined by His love because He lives.