‘Someone rising from dead? Impossible!’
‘Once you’re dead, you’re dead – that’s it!’
There was no doubt about it – Jesus was dead.
When the Romans carried out an execution they made sure the person was really dead. In fact, one of the soldiers stuck a spear into Jesus’ heart just to make sure.[i]
There was no doubt about it - Jesus was buried. A man called Joseph from the town of Aremathea, with a friend, took the dead body of Jesus and laid it in the tomb carved out of rock, presumably reserved for him. A huge stone was then rolled over the entrance and a guard posted.
Jews and Romans alike all knew Jesus was dead and buried. As far as they were concerned he was well and truly out of the way. The friends of Jesus knew He was dead – they had seen Him die and be buried in the tomb.
The women even prepared even spices to anoint the body and went to the tomb on the third day. Then came the terrible shock – the body was gone. The grave clothes were still there, but the tomb was empty.
What happened to the body of Jesus? That is the key question. There was no doubt about it. The tomb was empty. Everyone concerned knew which tomb it was; there could be no mistake about that.
Did the Jewish or Roman authorities take the body? If they had, then they would certainly have produced it when the friends of Jesus claimed Jesus was risen and alive.
Did the friends of Jesus take the body? The tomb was guarded by soldiers and the disciples were frightened, broken people. There is no way that they would later risked their lives proclaiming Jesus was alive when all the time they knew it was a lie – when all the time they knew where His body was rotting away.
If the body of Jesus was not taken by His enemies or His friends there can be one possible answer to the question.
God raised Jesus from the dead.
Nothing else explains the many appearances of Jesus. For forty days He appeared to His friends usually in broad daylight in a variety of places – in a room, on a road, by the sea. Sometimes it was to a single person, sometimes twos and threes, sometimes to the eleven disciples, sometimes to crowds of them, even to 500 all at once. These appearances cannot simply be explained as hallucinations.
He met them, talked with them, and even ate with them. They could see Him and touch Him. He was no ghost. He was the same Jesus they had seen dying on the cross. The marks of that terrible death were still there on His hands, feet and side. He was the same, yet different. He now had a resurrection body, not subject to time and space.
Nothing else explains the incredible change in the disciples. They had been scared out of their wits, totally disillusioned, complete failures, shattered by the unexpected death of Jesus. But now they became people full of joy and confidence. They went into the market-places fearlessly proclaiming that Jesus was risen from the dead and alive, THE CONQUEROR OF DEATH AND SIN.
The Christian faith is not limited to people of anyone race or background. The gift of eternal life is open to anyone who wants to receive it freely.
This was why they knew that Jesus was far more than just an ordinary man – that He was God.
This was why the Christian faith spread so far and so fast and why millions of people from all backgrounds, countries and cultures worship Jesus as Lord.
He is alive and they know it in their own experience.
[i] John 19:33-35