In our Christology, we have reached a pretty pivotal section: the resurrection of the Christ. Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
Few people deny the fact that a man named Jesus lived on this earth, gathered a large following, seemed to be a pretty decent guy, and then was killed. The point of debate has always been: did a dead man rise from the grave?
As we think about this section, here are some things to remember:
- God esteems women. At that time, women were unable to speak in a court of law because their word didn’t matter, and yet God had it that the women would be the first running from the empty tomb telling their story to all. If you were making this story up, this is not the way to start.
- The swoon theory doesn’t work. Years ago, some people, in an attempt to explain the noticeable hysteria of people saying Jesus was alive, came up with the swoon theory that stated that Jesus never died, he just passed out on the cross. The guards thought he was dead, wrapped him up, buried him. Three days later, he wakes out of his comatose state, is able to get the wrappings off, roll the stone away, and then inspire a group of followers in his bloodied condition that he had risen from the dead. Highly unlikely.
- The empty tomb is critical. We have the cross as the centerpiece of Christianity, but it should not be viewed without the empty tomb. It’s ironic to me that we sing about the cross all year, but we only sing about the empty tomb once a year. The resurrection is a fact to be celebrated every day.
- Cowards transformed into martyrs. Disciples who had ran from scary people like girls questioning Peter if he was a follower of Jesus were weeks later willing to die. As the story goes, if the disciples had stolen the body, hidden it, and, in an attempt to keep their popularity high, tell everyone Jesus was alive, don’t you think one of them would have confessed when your head is about to be chopped off? It’s very unique that all of these disciples all died in different places, at different times, in different ways, and not one of them, at the point of death blurted out: “OK, the gig is up! We stole the body. It’s buried past this tree. Jesus wasn’t the Messiah after all. We can all go home because this was all a sham.” But they didn’t.
- Here’s how a few of the original disciples died:
- Peter – crucified upside down in Rome
- Matthew – killed by sword in Ethiopia
- John – survived oil burning, exiled and died on Patmos
- Bartholomew – flayed to death by a whip in Armenia
- Andrew – crucified on X-shaped cross in Greece
- Thomas – speared in India
- Matthias – stoned and beheaded
- James – beheaded
- Phillip – crucified
- James, son of Alphaeus – beaten to death by club
What would cause these cowards to go to their grave? A lie? Or, quite possibly, they had beheld the One who had defeated death?
He is risen, Christ is risen, risen from the dead.