Monday, March 28, 2016
Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today. Matthew 28:5-15(NLT)
There are times of such earth-shattering importance that your heart pounds when you hear the news. I’m certain the women running back from an empty tomb could testify to that! But that noise had hardly subsided before the first conspiracy rumors began.
And Matthew records that (in his day…some 30 years later), they were still telling that lie. Well, Matthew, tax collector and friend, they’re still telling it today in one version or another. Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code and its sequels, floating theory upon fantasy about resurrection conspiracy, have made him a very rich man.
It seems large bribes still work!
It has often just simply amazed me what people in power will do to cover up something that threatens their status quo. The ruling elders of Israel were evidently so in-love with their position, prestige and power that they hatched the cover-up in the heat of a new crisis brought to them by the guards, over the “missing” body of Jesus.
What’s so interesting is the elders’ dullness. The centerpiece of Israel’s hope – and what the elders were in charge of preaching – was the coming of Messiah. And when Jesus showed up, they missed the mark by a mile – they crucified their one reason for existing!
And then they covered it up!
The rationale of the plot was simple enough – dead men don’t walk-off from their tombs!
Or do they?
A simple bit of logic tells us two facts:
1. The elders financed the wealthy retirement of the guards who had fallen asleep on the job, so that they would tell a lie.
2. The disciples got nothing, but went to early graves defending the truth.
And now, two thousand years later, the truth of the resurrection still makes my heart pound. I’ve been to any number of church dramatic presentations of the resurrection, preached it for years, and watched all sorts of movies and docudramas on the dead man walking away from the tomb. Whether the actors are world class or no class, when it comes to the resurrection, my heart leaps into my throat.
It’s something like the end of Spielberg’s movie, E.T. The little space man has died and is lying in a cryogenic freeze-dryer. The earth boy, Elliot, who was E.T.’s friend, is crying his heart out. And suddenly you see E.T.’s heart glow, and you know it’s not over; connection with the mother ship has occurred and E.T. is once more vital and all is well.
This is my connection with the Gospel resurrection fact; no matter how many times I read it, meditate on it, or see presentations of it, the reality of it still makes my heart pound!
Meditate on why your heart pounds – isn’t that the sign that life is present?