Happy Easter - When many of us walk into our various churches on Sunday, we will greet one another with the statement, “He is risen.” The response back will be, “He is risen indeed.” This exchange has been going on for centuries and it is the statement that embodies why people are Christians. The tomb in which Jesus was buried was empty on the third day.
The Roman government had a great deal at stake and you can imagine that they spared no expense in sending sandals on the ground to find the body of this itinerant Rabbi who had caused so many to turn towards his teachings. Jesus had become a thorn in the sides of the Roman government and they used the 30 pieces of silver to bribe Judas and then, in the course of one evening, Jesus had been captured in the Garden of Gethsemane, tried, convicted and sentenced to death.
That was Thursday. On Friday he was beaten and forced to carry his cross toward Calvary for his execution. So weakened by the savage beating when he could no longer carry his cross a man from Cyrene by the name of Simon was ordered by the Centurions to carry the cross for the condemned man.
Crucifixion kills by strangulation. A person is tied to the tree or cross beams of a cross, and because one has been beaten and legs broken, no escape would be possible if one slipped through the ropes. The condemned person hangs there and as exhaustion overcomes them they cannot take another gulp of air and they die.
Rome wanted to make sure that this man could not get away. He had done miracles such as turning water into wine, healing lepers, healing the lame, restoring sight to the blind, returning Lazarus to life, walking on water, feeding 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and a handful of fish along with other acts.
Rome wanted him secured to that cross. His hands were held down to the cross beam and spikes were driven into his palms. A crown of thorns was shoved painfully into his scalp and the cross was raised up and then as it rose the cross dropped into the hole dug to support the device of death.
Around three in the afternoon, he spoke his final words and succumbed to the torture. The historians left us records of the events of that week and the description of the sky and the earthquakes are supported by the fact that the many accounts agree with one another.
He was brought down and his body was cleansed and wrapped as was the custom of his faith and placed in the tomb which was sealed with a stone. This is how burials were handled in the Middle East. A trusted guard was stationed there to ensure that the body would not be stolen which would then inspire his followers to claim that the predicted rising up from the grave would have occurred.
On Sunday morning when the ladies went to further prepare his body for burial at his tomb they found the guard gone, the stone moved, and the body gone. The burial clothes were neatly folded where he had been laid to rest.
Hundreds saw him following that day. Too many to dismiss as crackpots. He was seen walking, talking, and meeting with people and his disciples.
Was it a hoax? Too many have gone to prisons and their own deaths preaching about what they saw when Jesus walked the earth. Had it been a scam it would have ended with his death that Friday afternoon. Nobody dies for a hoax. In fact, for the past two thousand years we have never seen another person ever live who has so impacted the entire human race and history of the world as has Jesus. Billions have found salvation through him because he told his followers the simple fact of Christianity; No one comes to the Father except through Him. His statement that He is the Truth, The Way, and the Life are the cornerstone of why people will be celebrating the Resurrection this Sunday.
I invite you to attend any church in the area if you don’t already have a connection to one. No reservations required. My church, Christ Church, Anglican won’t be having a Sunrise Service this year, however we will be meeting at the Masonic Lodge on Highway 49 at 10 a.m. to celebrate the premiere holy day of the year. You are welcome to join us.