Since we ended Mark’s Gospel yesterday on the angel’s announcement of the Resurrection (duh!), I thought this would be a great time to take a short interlude. For the next few days I’m going to present some evidence that the Resurrection actually happened. I apologize for the bad pun off the famous line from A Few Good Men, but I couldn’t come up with anything better (titles aren’t my strong suit).
Before we get to the evidence, let me present some thoughts on why this is important. That’s the job of a practical theologian: To always ask “So what?” For me, the primary reason why this is so vital is because it backs up the claims of Christ in a unique way. You can visit the tomb and view the bodies of Confucius, Buddha, etc. Every other religious leader out there died and stayed dead. And quite frankly, it doesn’t really make that much a difference whether they’re alive or not. Their claims to ultimate truth don’t depend on their being alive.
Not so with Christ. If we found the body of Jesus, if we found so much as a finger bone, then the entire faith falls apart. The main representative of our faith after Pentecost, the one who literally wrote half the New Testament, said “[If] Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have [died] in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” In other words, our entire belief system stands or falls on the Resurrection.
I mentioned before the book Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morison. He was a world-class scientist who set out to disprove the Resurrection. He looked at the evidence from a historical viewpoint, and you can guess the result. The first chapter is “The Book That Refused to Be Written.” The main piece that he couldn’t get over? It’s found in the title of the book itself.
This is one of the great ironies found in God’s word. The religious leaders knew that Jesus had claimed that he would rise from the dead (something that his own disciples had trouble remembering), and they wanted to prevent his followers from stealing his body and then claiming he had risen. So they went to Pilate and asked for guards for the tomb.
Please keep in mind that these are Roman soldiers. They were trained to fulfill their duty or die trying. The seal that’s mentioned here? That’s referring to the seal of the Roman Empire, and that meant death for anyone to break it.
I don’t want to mock anyone, I really don’t. That’s not my purpose. But for someone to deny the Resurrection, they have to claim that the disciples--some untrained fishermen and an ex-tax collector--snuck up on these guards, overpowered them, removed the stone, and stole the body. And quite frankly, it's a funny picture to imagine.
That’s where the grand irony comes in. The religious leaders wanted to stifle any claims that this “deceiver” rose from the dead. What they ended up doing was providing some of the best evidence that he did rise from the dead.
This has got to be one of the best examples I’ve ever encountered of God’s sovereignty in action. Our Lord does not accomplish his purposes in spite of the Enemy’s best efforts, but because of them. The Father wanted to make sure that his Son’s resurrection was attested to by the best evidence. Why? He wants us to place our faith in his Son and submit to him. That’s what this whole thing is about, right?
Father God, I praise you that you turn our Enemy’s best plans into your best triumphs. You are sovereign almighty God, and there is no other.