“…behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” Matthew 28:11-14
From Galileo to Columbus and Copernicus, the world has had difficulty accepting challenges to things long believed to be true. The earth is the center of the solar system and the world is flat. When challenged, these long held beliefs found support by kings and emperors. Even Pope Urban VIII brought Galileo to trial because he dared challenge what was thought to be true. One might think that the Church would be open to new possibilities, especially since it is the Church which was born out of such a discovery. After all, once crucified and buried, dead men don’t escape the grave.
The morning of Jesus’ resurrection, the guards who were posted outside the now empty tomb had a problem. The great stone was rolled away, an angel was sitting upon it and the grave was empty. Of course no one stole the body, the guards saw to that. The only possibility was that Jesus lived up to his word; on the third day he would be raised. Impossible! But how then can they explain everything they saw? After making their report to those in authority, the guards were paid to keep the story from spreading. After all, if the resurrection were real, then everything Jesus said and taught would also be true. People would have to reorder their lives. The priests and Pharisees would have explaining to do. Better to keep it quiet.
Since that first Easter day, the world has tried to do just that; keep witness to the resurrection quiet. Throughout centuries, people have been vigorous in their attempts to debunk the gospels and the resurrection accounts. They come up with all sorts of stories and theories, the oldest one being the one concocted by the temple authorities; the disciples stole his body. Others have concluded that Jesus did not die, and when he was taken from the cross was revived. Still others say Jesus wasn’t crucified at all; it was an imposter who hung on the cross. Try as they might, those who attempt to discount the resurrection can find no new evidence to support their claim; there simply isn’t any.
Jesus’ resurrection demands that people reorder their lives to conform to the example and teaching of Christ. God sent his Son into the world to save people from their sin and that’s just what he did. All who believe and are baptized are saved and have the promise of everlasting life in God’s kingdom. Just as the world is round and the earth revolves around the sun, God’s people are raised to new life through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There really can be no point in raising new questions, defending old assertions and supporting the notion of life without Christ, unless one intends to live apart from God.
Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia