The Love Contained in Easter's Empty Tomb
Years before Paul wrote his Ephesian letter from a prison in Rome, he had planted and pastored the church in Ephesus for 2 1/2 years. During that time he sent letters west to the Corinthian church that was beset with all types of problems and pride. He told them in 1 Corinthians 13 what was missing in their community life. They were not rooted and grounded in love.
This is always a sobering word to the church because in our desire for the restoration and presence of the charismata we may be tempted to build on the gifts rather than the Giver; on the sensational above the ethical or moral; on success and numbers rather than love.
- If we speak in tongues and do not have love, it is just a headache noise to God, a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.
- If we fathom all mysteries and knowledge, but have not love we are left with massive egos and abusive personalities.
- If we can prophesy and preach without love, we might as well pack up and go home.
- If we have faith to move mountains but without love, we have a loveless faith. What good is a goal-oriented, task-focused, success-driven minister without love?
- If we give everything away, but do not do it from a motive of love, what good is it?
- Even if we give our lives for Christ, becoming a martyr — but do it without love, we gain nothing.
But, when we are rooted and grounded in love — then we can …
Grasp the breadth of His love. It is wide. It begins before the stream of time and flows into the ocean of eternity. It is not a narrow love. It embraces all ethnicities, all ages, male, and female. There is not a single person God does not love.
Grasp the duration of His love. It is long. The songwriter put it well:
“Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.”
Grasp the extremity of His love. It is deep. I learned a wonderful hymn in seminary and have not heard much since. Samuel Trevor Francis is the writer. One cold winter night, at a point in life when his faith wavered, Francis found himself walking across London’s Hungerford Bridge. Mulling over his sadness and loneliness, he heard a whisper tempting him to end his misery and jump into the churning waters below.
Fortunately, Francis did not heed the dark voice. Instead, he heard God’s reassuring words speaking to him in the night. On that bridge he reaffirmed his faith in Jesus Christ and then wrote: “O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!”
May the Spirit help us grasp the width, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ that brought Him out of the ivory palaces into a world of woe, to Bethlehem’s manger, Nazareth’s small village, Calvary’s cruel cross, and Easter’s empty tomb. May we say with Paul, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).