Sunday Catechism: The Christ of the Empty Tomb


NOTE: I lead the Children’s Service at my church on Sundays. Every week I write a reflection on a question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Please note that these posts reflect a frank expression of my faith (Reformed Presbyterian) and are specifically aimed at the parents of children at my church.

Q: Which day of the week has God designated as the Sabbath?

A: From the beginning of the world until the resurrection of Christ, God established the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. From that time until the end of the world the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath.


This week in the Children’s Service we discussed four aspects of the Last Supper: the Passover, the washing of the feet, the imputation of symbolism upon the bread and the wine, and the treachery of Judas. Each of these signal specific things we remember when we partake in regular communion. There was, therefore, a lot of discussion about Jesus’ self-sacrifice for unworthy sinners.

This week’s catechism question, though, focuses more on Christ’s resurrection than his sacrifice. Christians sometimes place such a high premium on the cross that the empty tomb gets short shrift. Our Lord did indeed fall to the depths on our behalf, but we believe he rose again as well, and that is why Sunday is such a special day for us.

I don’t think, this week, I can do any better than these words from the late Dr. James Boice (taken from The Christ of the Empty Tomb):

…We should remember the resurrection because as long as we remember it we will always have a simple gospel, and a simple gospel is what men need. Understand, I am not talking about a “simplistic” gospel. A simplistic gospel would be one that is superficial, that does not really appreciate the problems or properly grapple with the facts…. It is a gospel that is simple because it brings simplicity to areas that would be hopelessly confused without it. Probably all great scientific and intellectual breakthroughs are simple in this sense. Before them there was confusion. Afterward there was clarity and light…. The resurrection is the capstone of Christianity. Accept that and the rest falls into place. Believe in the resurrection, and you have no difficulty with the other miracles, the full divinity of Jesus, the inspiration of the Scriptures, and a host of other things. Together these truths simplify man’s need and speak of that simple (though profound) remedy which God has provided in Christ.

…So long as we remember [the resurrection] we will always have a supernatural gospel. Are you not just a bit tired of schemes for human betterment, particularly since they do not really seem to be solving deep human problems or improving our environment? …The ultimate problems lie deep in man’s nature and are beyond mere human control. They cannot solve them. What can? The answer is: something beyond man and nature, something superhuman and supernatural.

…So long as we remember [the resurrection] we will always have a scriptural gospel. Our faith will not be a novelty. Instead, we will have a faith linked—as all true faith must be linked—to God’s great purposes in human history. …It was that which had been proclaimed from before the beginning of the world and would be proclaimed to the end….

Finally, we are to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ because, if we do remember it, we will always have a satisfying gospel…. When we are young and life lies before us, the offerings of the world are not bad, it seems. There is an appeal to fame or wealth or companionship. The hunger of the imagination paints our goals in bright colors. We live on dreams. But what happens when the future doesn’t bring what we ask for? What happens in the face of suffering, death, or sorrow? What happens in old age? If there is nothing more to life than the things that time takes from us, life becomes misery. On the other hand, if we are united to a living Lord Jesus Christ who has gone before to prepare for us a place in His presence, then life retains its meaning and is filled with joy.

May we find a renewing rest that is thus simple, supernatural, scriptural, and satisfying.


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