The Jail is Empty (because the Tomb is)

   The Tomb is Empty, So is the Jail

Acts 5:12-32

 † Jesus, Son, Savior

As you realize the grace, the mercy and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, may you realize as well that He has freed you to join Him!

 The +1:  The Tomb is Empty, He is Risen, The Lord is With you, You are Free.

Last week, during the service and sermon I asked you to respond to a number of things!  Actually, I didn’t ask you! You just responded, and did it well.  Which is appropriate, as we use these things pretty regularly here at church.

I wanted you to tie them together – a bond that would lead you from one saying to the next – and every time you hear one – hopefully the others will just come to mind as well.

So let’s see if you remember them

The Tomb is ……
therefore, He is Risen…
therefore, The Lord is with…

And to that today, as we look at the reading from the book of Acts, we are going to add one,

36  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 (NLT)

Indeed – and that is our theme for this day…as we look at the fact that no longer was the Tomb empty, but so was the jail.  Moreover, while this is fact, the difference between the Priests and the Apostles is such a valuable lesson for us.  For many of us deal with times in our lives where we feel ourselves imprisoned, bound, captive – and the point is simple – 

The Tomb is Empty, He is Risen, The Lord is With You – and IF God has set you free…

Who was really imprisoned?  What Imprisoned them?

If you look at the actions of the Priests and officials, you see what motivated them to react with orders to arrest the apostles.  We see it there in verse 17 – the were filled with jealously – the word picture describes being overwhelmed and flooded with it – even to the point of not seeing the good they were denying.

They were fighting against good stuff.  They stopped people from being healed. The interfered with people being freed from what oppressed them – what ailed their spirits or the demons with whom they struggled.  Even more annoying to them, were the crowds that began to believe.  The crowds in whom the word of God was working, generating life and faith as lives were brought together with God.  Such things that the crowds grew, and the glory of the priesthood and its empty temple diminished, quickly.

The priests were in a prison that was far more insidious, even more restrictive than the facility that the one in which they stuck the apostles.  For we can find peace anywhere, but we cannot flee from ourselves. We cannot flee our own idols, and we can’t even free ourselves from the sin and idols which we worship.

That is why I ask – who was imprisoned?  The one’s in the community’s jail, or the ones who tossed them into that cell?  It’s a pretty common occurrence in scripture, Joseph and His brothers, Saul and David, Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, or Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.  Or for that matter – who knew more freedom – Jesus on the cross, or those who crucified him?

When we are bound up in jealousy – when we zealously protect our idols, those things we count on, before we count on God. I am always curious when we think we need to defend our gods anyways.  Can’t they stand up on their own?  First sign of an idol is when we have to defend it.  Such sin is revealed as well when we stop good from happening because it didn’t happen our way.  It is then we should realize that we are imprisoned by something that controls us – we are oppressed by it, it suffocates us and can even kill our Spirit – as it did those priests and Sadducees.  Imagine not realizing the tomb was empty, or that He is Risen, or that the Lord is ….. indeed, if you didn’t know this – how could you ever conceive of being free indeed?

And how sad is that…?  Can we even conceive of it?

Or do we need to be rescued from it?

God Frees them and us in more ways than one

I love that the phrase, “the angel of the Lord” is used to describe who delivers the apostles from their prison.  For that phrase is used normally of God Himself – as in the days of Abraham, Issac and Israel, or Moses’ day.

It reminds us that real freedom comes from Him, He is always it’s source.  He is our source.  The way they are freed, it isn’t a big deal here.  Come on, Jesus says, let’s go, time to get back to what I sent you to do – go and give them my message of life!  Go tell them, that:

The tomb is….   Praise God He is Risen, the Lord is with….. and… if the Son sets you free… you are free indeed!

So my only question today – is what are you freed from?  For the Son has set you free. Have you thought about it recently? Maybe you are here today, wondering if you can be freed from…


Instead of the something maybe it is the guilt and shame or anxiety that you need to be freed from so that would enable you to act? Or maybe what you need freedom from is the jealousy or zeal for an idol, or a sin, that stops you from seeing that we dwell in the glory of God – He is truly present here, His spirit dwells in each one of us – for that is His desire.
You see, sometimes it isn’t what we think we need to be delivered from, but our being stuck to it, our being superglue’d to it, unable to free ourselves.  The guilt and shame bind us, or our desire that no one know we are in such a needy place, bind us far more than the actual issue.  Or our desire to protect ours – our precious thing – ends up strangling us, choking our life out.

O we need to get that Jesus has set us free!  That all the prisons that sin can create, all the temptations of Satan and the oppression of demons, that the anxiety we have over life and death – that was crushed at the cross.  The doors to that which confines us, thrown open, and Jesus, the Angel of the Lord comes to us and escorts us out, reminding us

My tomb is ….  I am risen and with you – and I have set you free….. 

For at the cross – when He died – when His blood was shed, all that ties us was defeated.. you are free!!

You are free – go and give the people this message of Life…

You are free.. Christ has freed you – the Son has freed you – so you are freed….?

Yes indeed.

I would end with this one thought…. There are a lot of people who don’t get this – that are struggling with very little hope.  They may know these phrases – but they don’t ever quite link them together.

or for a moment – because of trauma, or because of sin – they forgot them.

The Angel of the Lord re-commissioned the apostles that night – even as He freed them.

HE said to them, “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!”

So you too my friends have been commissioned – to go to those bearing the wounds and those who help carry them, looking for someone to help, praying someone will help – and now you know what to tell them….

The Tomb is

He has Risen

The Lord is With you

and if the Son has set you free… 


About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on April 7, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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