He is not here, for he has risen, as he said ... go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead!
-- Matthew 28:6-7
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.'"
-- Matthew 28:11-13
It is interesting to flip back and forth between CNN and FOX News. When political agendas are more important than pertinent facts, a single news event can be spun into two completely different stories. Into such a partisan world Jesus was born, lived and died.
Also, the grave in which Jesus was placed was discovered to be empty. Converging on the scene, however, were two different news organizations: a funeral band of four women, and a small assembly of government men.
Both parties attested to the fact that the tomb was empty. But two divergent stories emerged. The four women told one story. The government men told another. The question for the ages is, "Who are you going to believe?"
There is more historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth than any other human being who ever lived. I have never seen George Washington with my own eyes. But I believe he lived, died and made a difference. If Washington were a myth, we would all be Canadians.
Jesus Christ lived, died and made the greatest difference of all. No one has had a larger impact on the world, whether you are a believer or not. I have never seen Him with my eyes, but I must tell you what I have seen. I've been to Jerusalem and viewed both places which lay claim to His burial, and in both places, the tomb is empty!
The first story that came out claims Jesus bodily arose from the grave and appeared to many of His followers, beginning with the first witnesses to testify.
They were rural, uneducated women, a fearsome foursome, yet women lacked credibility in that patriarchal day. Yet, a story of faith came flying out of the tomb. But most folks, then and now, cannot accept something simply on faith alone.
Therefore, another story had to emerge. But was it based on fact? Remember, the fact is the same in both stories: the tomb is empty. The women fold a faith-based story. The authorities told the opposite.
But the opposite of a faith-based story is not necessarily a fact-based story. In this case that the opposite of faith is fiction! With evidence to the country, they concocted a tale that told of people slipping past the guards and removing the heavy stone to steal the body of Jesus away by night.
These women had walked and talked with Jesus for three years. They came to the tomb that day as believers, albeit imperfect ones. They miscalculated, however, that the gospel ended with crucifixion. They were shocked by the resurrection and did not fully believe until angels from Heaven and the Lord Jesus Himself appeared to them.
They went and told Peter, John, and the other disciples. For the next 40 days, Jesus would verify His bodily resurrection to the fledgling body of Christ.
Why did the believers believe? They believed because God had given them a certain and sure revelation of Himself to them. Belief requires revelation, and the entire revelation of the gospel and the word of God is consummated in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Why did the guards and the Jewish priests and the Roman authorities not believe? Why do most people in the modern world not believe? They are predisposed to sin, which makes faith impossible. They are predisposed to self-interest, valuing money and bribes more than bravery and telling the truth. They are predisposed to independence, preferring to govern their own lives on their own terms rather than submitting to a risen King of kings and Lord of lords.
So, who are you going to believe? As the father of four daughters, I'm going with the four women! I believe that Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, 5963 Central Ave. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]