The impact of Biblical issues that we have heard so often, and always in the same context, can be diminished because they’re so familiar . . . even those issues associated with our Easter celebrations. For that reason, seeing them in a different context can spark a refreshing renewal of interest. That’s not to suggest that our personal interpretation of God’s truth is never wise, nor should it be subjected to the transient vicissitudes of current circumstances, but sometimes issues that have captured the attention of the popular culture can provide one of those stimulating, fresh perspectives.
The recent release of the politically volatile “Mueller Report,” which has consumed the oxygen in every newsroom in America for days now, might serve as an example. The factions awaiting it could not be more oppositional, and the implications to each side could not be more critical. With that in mind, let’s consider an Easter news release whose impact on opposing viewpoints had far more vital implications.
An Existential Threat ~
We all know the historical backstory. One rogue man with a questionable background, and whose presence quickly became a problem for the religious ruling class, unexpectedly emerged on Israel’s religious/political landscape. Years of embarrassing exchanges and scores of contentious confrontations led to the conclusion that Jesus represented an existential threat to their entire system. The religious hierarchy colluded with the established Roman judicial authorities and had the man that they hated and feared, falsely accused and brought to trial. Though demonstrably innocent of all charges, those with the loudest and most influential public voices forced His conviction and Jesus was sentenced to die.
Israel’s religious ruling class heaved a collective sigh of relief with the official pronouncement of His death. Their nemesis had been removed, and now they could move into the Passover rituals with their superficial holiness intact. The rogue Rabbi from Nazareth that some called the “King of the Jews” was finally dead, and the threat to their power was at long last eliminated.
A Disturbing Memory ~
But unfortunately for them, their relief was short-lived. Memories of an outlandish statement He made to His followers raised concerns that were disturbing enough to warrant dispatching a delegation to seek Pilate’s help. Matthew records the nature of their fear and the substance of that meeting:
On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”
Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. Matthew 27:62-66 (NKJV)
Assurance Based in Death ~
For the religious elites, their only source of security was that the lacerated, mutilated body they took from the cross had no spark of life left in it. The cross had put an end to all the things they hated about Him, and the tomb secured their victory. The tomb put an end to His speeches and sermons and would seal His silence forever. Jesus was finally cut off and isolated from that rag-tag collection of social outcasts who loved Him, believed Him, followed Him, and worshipped Him. There would be no crowd-pleasing miracles performed in that rocky hole in the ground, and most importantly, He would no longer challenge their authority with those stories that had a maddening way of making them look foolish and turning their world upside down.
But there was another group affected by Jesus and whose attention was drawn to that tomb. His followers heard those same words and witnessed His works. They had a radically different reaction to His death. Their hearts had been crushed, and their hopes and dreams had died along with His last tortured breath. All that remained for them was an aching void in their hearts born of their love for Him. Even death could not touch that. For them, Jesus wasn’t just “in” their world, He “was” their world.
Now the focus for both sides was the tomb. As Pilate had suggested, His enemies had done everything they could to see that its contents remained secure, that Jesus was safely sealed inside with no way out, and His followers were secured outside with no way in. For His followers, the tomb was a bittersweet reminder, a place to bring their tears and whatever expressions of love they might be able to offer.
A Different Picture Emerges ~
For two days, the report from the tomb was that His enemies had won. The stone was secure, the seal was intact, and the guards were in place to keep it that way. But another report would be released on the morning of the third day. That report revealed an entirely different picture that would change everything for both sides.
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. Matthew 28:1-8 (NKJV)
More than an Empty Tomb ~
As we see so clearly in our own culture today, a single report can generate an entirely different set of reactions, depending on what it means to those who have a vested interest in it. For those in Israel when Jesus died and for all of us today, that final report from the tomb is absolutely critical. If the tomb remained intact, then those who claimed He was nothing more than a clever imposter had fuel for their argument. But the tomb did not remain intact, and that report revealed more than news that it was empty. The One whose dead body formerly occupied it was now alive and speaking with eyewitnesses.
Those who rejected Him only acknowledged part of the “Resurrection Report.” They couldn’t deny that the tomb was empty, but instead of admitting the truth, they offered a pathetic concoction of “fake news” to try to explain it and cover their sinful conspiracy.
Resurrection Confirms Every Claim ~
The final news from the tomb was simple. He is not here. He is risen, as He said… Matthew 28:6 (NKJV). Here’s what that means:
- Life wins out over death,
- Hope defeats despair,
- Redemption overcomes judgment,
- Forgiveness trumps condemnation,
- Regeneration eliminates destruction, and
- Resurrection seals it all forever.
The “Resurrection Report” confirms every claim Jesus ever made about who He was, why He came, and what faith in Him continues to achieve.
The totally unredacted “Resurrection Report” is available to everyone today. Our reaction won’t change its contents, but how we respond could alter our future forever.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly back to this article through Twitter.
- “Sometimes issues that have captured the attention of the popular culture can provide one of those stimulating, fresh perspectives into Biblical issues . . . like the Resurrection.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “That final report from the tomb is absolutely critical. If the tomb remained intact, then those who claimed He was nothing more than a clever imposter had fuel for their argument. But the tomb did not remain intact, and that report revealed more than just news that it was empty.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Those who rejected (Jesus) couldn’t deny that the tomb was empty, but instead of admitting the truth, they offered a pathetic concoction of “fake news” to try to explain it and cover their sinful conspiracy.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The totally unredacted “Resurrection Report” is available to everyone today. Our reaction won’t change its contents, but how we respond could alter our future forever.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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