“What a Day!”
“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’” –Matthew 27:63
I can still remember the day I realized that yes, Jesus truly had risen from the dead. Then and now (50 years later) that revelation has made all the difference in my life.
Although I attended church regularly as a child up until the time I went to college, I somehow missed the power of the resurrection for all those years. Easter was more about the clothes, the family dinner, the Easter egg hunt, and the chocolate rabbits rather than the empty tomb. Jesus always figured prominently in the story, of course, but I just didn’t realize then, as I do now, that His sacrifice on the cross has little meaning without His triumph over the grave. The Apostle Paul put it this way in his letter to the church in Corinth:
“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith… And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, 17).
As soon as Jesus was laid in the tomb, the chief priests and the Pharisees realized the potential for trouble. Hadn’t Jesus made some wild claims about rising again? Pilate knew it, too, having sent Jesus to his death, so he posted a guard at the tomb. Just imagine their dismay and consternation when the guards came slinking back home with their story of an empty grave. An earthquake, an angel whose countenance appeared as brilliant as lightning? Sure, guys. (Wink, wink.)
Oh…wait! Could it be true?
I love that Scripture tells us the chief priests and elders “devised a plan” to keep the soldiers quiet. As if an experience like the one they witnessed could ever be contained for long.
As I said, I remember the day it happened to me. How about you?