Devotion for the week...
We've all had moments when we're looking for something.
We know exactly where we left it, exactly where it should be, except it's not there.
Well, early one morning Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them (Luke 24:10) were having one of those moments.
Jesus had died and been buried in a tomb. The women had come to the tomb early on this morning to prepare his body for a proper burial, but when they looked into the tomb they found it empty. Then, "while they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening stood beside them." (v. 4)
Can you picture the women standing around at the entrance to the tomb, 'wondering about this'?
"Are you sure this is the right tomb?"
"I'm sure it is...at least, I think it is."
"Then where is his body?"
"This can't be the right tomb. Maybe it was that one over there."
Then the angels spoke. "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" (v. 5)
They were looking in the wrong place! Not the wrong tomb - the wrong place altogether. They thought Jesus' body would be in the tomb, because that was where it was put, and dead bodies don't move themselves from place to place. But Jesus' body wasn't in the tomb, among the dead, because He was no longer dead.
Many people are still looking in the wrong places. Some look to good behavior or good deeds to earn them a place in heaven. They hope that when the judgement day comes, God will declare them 'good enough' because they have donated enough money, served others enough, volunteered enough, loved well enough...Unfortunately, 'good enough' will never be good enough.
While talking about the day of judgement, and those who will not enter heaven, Jesus said, "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:46)
Heaven is reserved for those who are righteous, which according to my dictionary means 'morally right.' I don't know about you, but no matter how good I try to be, I don't think my 'good enough' will equal God's 'morally right.' If you have ever told a lie or gossiped, you are not righteous, which means you are not good enough for heaven. Neither am I. By ourselves, by our own goodness, none of us would see heaven.
That's why I find this passage from Romans absolutely amazing.
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:21-24)
Did you see the amazing part? Righteousness from God, given freely through faith in Jesus to all who believe.
It doesn't matter, Paul says, which sins you have committed. There is no difference - all of us have sinned in one way or another, so we all fall short. But through faith in Jesus, anyone can receive righteousness from God.
This is the heart of Easter. Jesus died and He was buried. But when the women went looking for His body, He wasn't there. They were looking in the wrong place. He was, and is, alive! And because He is alive, he offers each and every one of us His righteousness, if only we would believe.
That's the only place we need look for our salvation and the only way into an eternity in heaven with Him.