Three Days Before Easter
In vs. 63, the Pharisees quote the words of Jesus, "After three days I will rise again."
INTRODUCTION: Have you ever thought about the three days Jesus was in the tomb? Was His body just lying there, waiting for the resurrection? The Bible says after He died, they prepared His body with spices and wrapped it in linen cloth, as was the Jewish custom. It says in vs. 59, "And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,  And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
When the disciples came to the tomb on the first day of the week, something had been going on. They found His linen clothes folded neatly, with His head cloth placed in the corner of the tomb. In John 20:6-7, it says, "Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,  And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself."
What was Jesus doing; and where was He for those three days prior to His resurrection? Let's take a look at the Scriptures, and see what we can find:
I. A Visit to Paradise
II. A Meeting with the Saints
III. A Journey to Heaven
I. A VISIT TO PARADISE
We all remember the Lord's statement to the thief on the cross: "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). When you think about it, this man was as close to hell as one can get without going there. He had literally minutes to make a decision for Christ. Thank God, he was willing to humble himself and turn to the Lord. The other thief was a fool, and he died as a fool dies. Before I move on, let me just say, any person who is unwilling to receive Christ is a fool. To trade heaven for hell is to miss it all. To ignore the most important decision in life is tantamount to self-destruction. How many people like the other thief on the cross, take the chance that hell is not real? They hope there will be no consequences...but they are wrong.
ILLUS: A few years ago, "ABC Evening News" reported on an unusual work of modern art--a chair affixed to a shotgun. It was to be viewed by sitting in the chair and looking directly into the gun barrel. The gun was loaded and set on a timer to fire at an undetermined moment within the next hundred years. The amazing thing was that people waited in lines to sit and stare into the shell's path! They all knew the gun could go off at point-blank range at any moment, but they were gambling that the fatal blast wouldn't happen during THEIR minute in the chair.
We would all agree that was foolhardy, and yet many people who wouldn't dream of sitting in that chair live a lifetime gambling with eternity. Foolishly they ignore the risk until the inevitable-- self-destruction.1
Jesus said to the repentant thief, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." It is appa ...
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