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Faithful Living: Christ is risen, indeed!
Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people
and hallelujah is our song.
-- Pope John Paul II
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I feel the anticipation in my heart growing. This is because I love everything about Easter, especially the hope, the music and the celebration surrounding the message that there is life beyond what we know here.
And yet, there is one last task that needs to be done before I can break loose in joy and celebration. Author Josh McDowell calls it “evidence that demands a verdict” and he is referring, of course, to the evidence that Jesus actually died and rose three days later.
There is nothing wrong with asking the tough questions and probably the first one to ask is this: Wonder if Jesus was only unconscious and later revived? This might have happened except for the fact that an official Roman soldier, tasked to observe the crucifixion (with the hope that the prevailing hysteria among the Jews could be brought to a “proper” end) reported to Pontius Pilate that Jesus was determined to have died upon the cross, beside two thieves crucified on either side of him. It was also reported that Jesus’ side had been pierced during the execution and when the deed was done Jesus’ body had been claimed by Joseph of Arimathea and his friend Nicodemus, who customarily wrapped the body and placed it in a donated tomb.
Could the body have been lost or misplaced? According to several accounts, found in various gospels and ancient writings, Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ mother watched as Joseph and Nicodemus entombed Jesus’ body. They knew of the tomb’s location and must have shared the information with disciples Peter and John, for both men arrived at the location as well without getting lost along the way. Deeply understood customs about caring for bodies were important to them all and they would have tended to Jesus’ body.
Might Jesus’ body have been stolen? This could have occurred were it not for the Roman soldiers who diligently sealed and guarded the tomb. Losing the body would have placed their lives in jeopardy with their superiors. It would also empower Christ’s followers and further inflame an enormous population control problem for the Romans. If a Roman had been able to produce Jesus’ body once it was discovered missing, it would have quelled all rumors once and for all. No Roman would steal the body and certainly no follower would either, for in time Christ’s followers not only grew to span the globe, but countless voluntarily gave up personal comfort and their very lives for the right to tell the world that a relationship with Christ promises life everlasting.
Tomorrow I’ll look into the faces of my husband and children, gaze at the members of my church family and rejoice. Christ is risen, indeed! His gifts of love, forgiveness, hope, and eternity are for my family and yours.
Reach Joan Bay Klope at firstname.lastname@example.org