What Jesus Left Behind in the Tomb


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you. 

Jesus, We belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Romans 6:1–4 (NIV)

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.


There are two sites in the ancient city of Jerusalem that compete for the prize of being the place of the cross and the empty tomb. If you go there, you will undoubtedly visit both sites. The first is known as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is a massive cathedral-like building that meanders across the space of what feels like a small city block. Inside the cathedral is the place the authorities say is the place where Jesus was crucified on the cross. Nearby, in the cathedral is the empty tomb. Interestingly, the place feels like neither. Across town, actually outside the gates of the Old City is the other site, known as “The Garden Tomb.” There’s a rocky crag there on which you can trace the contours of a skull (i.e., Golgotha) and nearby there is an ancient cave-like tomb cut into the side of a small hill complete with a large stone next to the mouth of the cave. This has all the “feels” of the place and yet less verification as the authentic site. All this to say, I have been in both empty tombs and both hold enormous gravitas.

Most of the emphasis over all the centuries has gone into the focus on the fact that the tomb is empty. It’s true. The tomb could not hold the risen body of Jesus Christ. He is not there; nor are his bones. In another sense, however, it is not empty. It is quite full. It is filled with the Sin of Adam and all the sins of all the saints from all the ages. As Jesus was crucified on the cross, he took on himself, in his body, the Sin of Adam and the sins of the world past, present, and future. Further, as Jesus’s body was laid in the tomb, the Sin of Adam and all the sins of the world, past, present, and future, were laid there in his body. We, our Sin and our sins, both crucified and buried Jesus. “They” did not kill Jesus. We did. (And of course “we” includes “them” too.) As Jesus rose from the dead, he left the Sin and the sins in the grave, buried, dead, lifeless, forever.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death . . . 

Our Sin and our sins are buried in a tomb outside of the city gates in Old Jerusalem. They are dead, rotten and ever rotting, dead to us, dead to eternity, forever dead and buried. They have no life, no power, no gravity but that we accede to them—which is an utter absurdity and only betrays the reality that we have a very inadequate understanding of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is Paul’s point in the opening salvo of Romans 6. 

We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 

When Jesus was laid in the tomb, we were laid there with him—our old self, our old life, our Sin, and our sins. When Jesus rose from the dead, we rose with him, our new self, our new life, free from sin and delivered from death. 

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

We have many and varied understandings of what Christian baptism is and what it means. Paul gives us the ground zero definitive picture of it here in Romans 6. 

Death. Burial. Resurrection.

Right here and right now. 

Baptism is not a symbolic rite of passage as we are so prone to believe. It is a literal living participation in the real, physical, and embodied deliverance of Jesus Christ from sin and death into life and love which is freedom. 

I fear we have largely missed the point when it comes to baptism. We have majored in the minors while debating over trivialities. Baptism is first and foremost about Jesus’s death, Jesus’s burial, and Jesus’s resurrection. He went to the cross and carried our Sin and our sins. They carried his lifeless body, murdered by Sin and sins, and laid him in the tomb. Our Sin and our sins and our old life were buried in the literal tomb in Jerusalem. Jesus was raised from the dead and as he ran out of that grave, our new life, our freedom from sin, and delivered-from-death life ran out with him. And we are still running free from sin and full of faith in the newness of life today. 

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Reflect deeply on this today, because it is going to get a lot deeper tomorrow and the day after that. 


Our Father, how we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who took on our Sin and our sins in his physical body. He took them, and us with them, into the tomb. And he rose from the dead and took us with him, leaving our Sin and our sins behind in the grave forever. Holy Spirit, bring our own baptism back before our memory—open the eyes of our hearts to see what really happened there. Bring us into the depths of remembrance such that we understand it beyond what we did before—that we were buried with him into death in order that we might be raised with him into life. Give us the vision to see our Sin and our sins left behind in that tomb in Jerusalem forever—they are dead to us and we are dead to them. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen. 


 Are you beginning to see baptism from a fresh angle here? Are you seeing what actually happened in baptism? Are you ready to rise up into your baptism in a renewed and revivified and empowered fashion? You actually are dead to Sin and Sin is dead to you. 


Okay, I have heard so much feedback from last week’s “And Can it Be” hymn festival, I am going to declare another hymn festival this week. The hymn is “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” We will do verses 1 and 2 today and pick up a new verse each day going forward. It is hymn 279 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. Let’s sing it with a spirit of exuberant praise. 

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

P. S. Join Dan Wilt and me (J. D. Walt) for the new summer course in our Awakening Essentials series—We can’t wait to share this with you all . . . and this bonus . . .

I AM SO EXCITED to announce the upcoming summer course in our Awakening Essentials series: How to Receive an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Dr. Dan Wilt and yours truly (J. D. Walt) will be leading this three-session class in July. We will be teaching some of the emerging learnings and wisdom gleaned from the sixteen-day outpouring this past February at Asbury University. It will be rich, inspiring, practical, and powerful. And get this—in the interest of expanding participation as broadly as possible, we aren’t putting a price on it. You can see all the details here. Please prayerfully consider. 

P. P. S. In case you missed it, here’s the link to watch the Ascension Day Asbury Spiritual Outpouring Zoom meeting from last Thursday night.

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. Yes, and Amen!
    And, since my sin is dead, present, but dead (1 John 1:8
    If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us), I no longer label myself as a sinner! I have the power to resurrect the sin in me, but not the option. For…
    1 John 3:9
    No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
    …I cannot because the desire to sin died with my sin! I will not, for my desire is to serve Christ and not myself.
    Teach me always to follow your instruction and accept Your rebuking and correction. May I learn how to live more righteously today than yesterday! Be more loving and lovable toward others. Today may I seek Your will through me and not my will for You! I pray the same for all of Your children.
    Staying 💪’n Christ

  2. Having been raised in a more liturgical Christian tradition, this particular emphasis on baptism is more a confirmation of what I was taught, rather than a fresh angle. I believe that this is the reason that we refer to it as a sacrament, rather than an ordinance. Baptism is a means of grace; it’s more about what God doe’s through it, rather than what we’re proclaiming to the world by submitting to it. That’s why it should not be repeated. I also believe this is why Jesus himself was baptized by John. He was baptized into our human condition, so that we could; post crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, be joined with Him in our Christian baptism.

  3. We Christians have so much disagreement and confusion about baptism. Is it done by pouring, immersion, sprinkling, or just by the Spirit alone? If baptism with the Spirit is different than baptism with water why does Paul say there is “one baptism”? Should we be baptized into a local church or into the worldwide body of Christ? Can someone who doesn’t believe solid biblical doctrine and have a living relationship with Jesus baptize people? Have I been baptized correctly (some would say yes, others no)? And the famous question: What about the thief on the cross? Why can’t we find clear answers to these questions in the Bible and all agree on them? Perhaps that’s because baptism (which I’ve been told means “to dip”) is a supernatural mystery that requardless of outward form must occur in the heart to be genuine. Has your heart been dipped into Christ’s death and been raised to live daily in and through His life flowing like rivers from within your innermost being?

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