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Monday, March 26, 2018

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. Mark 16:5-6

Open and Empty

Three days after Jesus' dead body was taken down from a Roman cross and put in a tomb, the tomb was found open and empty. Many suggestions have been around for centuries trying to explain away the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some of the suggestions are that He wasn't really dead when He was taken down from the cross to the absurd story that His disciples came in the night and stole His body from under the noses of seasoned Roman soldiers who were all sleeping on duty and then spreading the story Jesus had risen from the dead.

When the guards reported the empty tomb to the chief priests and the elders responsible for the death of Jesus they were bribed to say Christ's disciples stole the body while the guards slept (Matthew 28:11-15). In the Roman Army the penalty for any soldier sleeping on duty was death (fustuarium). The elders told the guards if the matter came to the governor's ears they would satisfy him and keep them out of trouble (Matthew 28:14). The guards accepted the bribe and spread the farfetched story that Jesus' disciples had stolen His body.

The only plausible consideration, and the only one that fully agrees with the eye witness accounts, is God resurrected Christ from the grave and He is alive today and seated at His right hand (Acts 1:9, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1). The question that leads all the rest is if the resurrection of Jesus was concocted by His followers why didn't the religious leaders simply produce His body? That would have stopped Christianity in its tracks. The chief priests and elders knew where He was buried. They put the guard detail at the tomb themselves under the command of Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:62-66)!

With the body missing from the tomb there was no reasonable explanation for the chief priests and elders as to how a sealed tomb with guards present could be open and empty nor explain the guards fearful reaction to what actually happened when the resurrection occurred. There was an earthquake and an angel appeared and moved the stone from the mouth of the tomb and sat on it and for fear of him they trembled and fell down as dead men (Matthew 28:2-4). The elders could not deny the tomb was open and empty. The only thing they could do was concoct the ludicrous story that weak and unarmed disciples outwitted some of Rome's best soldiers and made off with the body of Jesus.

All of the Christian faith revolves around the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the pivotal point of human history. Without it Christianity lapses into simply a man-made religion and loses any relationship with the Living God. If we only have hope in Christ in this life then we are of all people the most to be pitied (1st Corinthians 15:19). That Jesus rose from the dead means He is now alive and returning soon to restore and sit upon the throne of His ancestor David to rule in righteousness forever (2nd Samuel 7:16, Luke 1:32).

Easter is upon us and it is a joyous time of celebration and anticipation of the Second Advent of Christ. It is not about eggs and bunnies. It's about a Lamb. A Lamb that was slain for the sins of the world even before its foundation (1st Peter 1:18-20) and is risen from the dead and is alive forevermore. Rejoice and praise God for the day! The tomb is open and empty. Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Happy Easter.