It’s not like the chief priests and Pharisees didn’t pick up what Jesus was laying down. Not as if they missed something. It wasn’t that they didn’t understand the implications of what He was saying or failed to talk hold of some nuance concerning His claims. By the time they forced Pilate’s hand and had Jesus crucified, they clearly understood that the proof in the pudding as to whether or not Jesus was the Christ lay in whether or not Jesus rose from the dead.
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while He was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”
(Matthew 27:62-64 ESV)
Two thousand years later and His disciples are preparing, yet again, to tell the people, “He has risen from the dead!” Lord willing (though wouldn’t it be cool if they were “postponed” due to His coming again before then?), our Easter remembrances and celebrations are just around the corner. That Sunday when we will focus afresh on the foundation for our faith. And it really is the foundation of our faith!
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. . . . your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
(1Corinthians 15:14, 17b-18 ESV)
The chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and asked that the place where the dead body of Jesus had been laid — the tomb cut in the rock with a great stone sealing it’s entrance (Mt. 27:59) — be sealed through government edict and secured by government military forces. And why? Not because they didn’t understand who Jesus claimed to be, but because they did. Yet, they refused to believe Him.
They called Him an impostor. They were afraid that His followers would aid in His deception and perpetuate His fraud. And the way to end all of it, right there and right then, was to make sure His body was still in the tomb on the fourth day after His death. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t!)
He has risen from the dead!
I know, this is Christianity 101 stuff, but let us guard against it become Christianity “yawn-and-hohum” stuff. Let not the common knowledge of the resurrection seed a crop of complacency. Let not that which is so well known be taken for granted. God forbid that its familiarity should no longer cause our jaws to drop and our hearts to be aflame with awe, wonder, and worship.
The tomb is empty. Jesus was no impostor.
His claims were not fraudulent — neither the first nor the last. He is the Son of God. He did come to give His life as a ransom for many. Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. For, He is risen from the dead.
Thus, because He lives, we also will live.
By grace alone. Through faith alone. For God’s glory alone.