Published April 21, 2011
There is an interesting passage of Scripture in Acts 25:19. In the passage, Festus, the Roman Governor of Judea, and Paul the Apostle agreed as to the death of Jesus, but they were miles apart on the resurrection of Christ.
That Jesus died on the cross in the days of Pontius Pilate, all the world, whether Christians or non-Christians, are agreed. Occasionally you will run into a person who says he does not believe that Jesus died on the cross, or that He even existed, for that matter, that person takes this position because he says, “I am not a believer.”
This is certainly true, but it is also true that such a person is ignorant of the facts in this matter. That Jesus lived and that He died on the cross in the days of Pontius Pilate is a matter of secular public record. It is a matter of history.
G. Campbell Morgan, referring to the moment in the Garden of Gethsemane when the Roman soldiers bound Christ to take Him away, said that it is hard to read those words without laughing. He said, “They rushed at Him and they bound Him. They bound Him? They bound Him? They thought they bound Him! What bound Him? It was His love for me! It was His love for you! This is what bound Him … not the hemp rope of a group of foolish men, but the eternal cords of divine love.”
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said to Peter, “Do you think that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He will give me more than twelve legions of angels?” That’s over 72,000 angels. They bound Jesus with some hemp rope and thought they had taken Him captive. He was held captive, all right, but it wasn’t by the rope; it was His amazing love for you and for me that took Christ out of the garden that night and that held Him to the Cross of Calvary.
All persons who believe that resurrection from the dead is impossible must stand against the testimonies of many eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus Christ, including 500 who saw Him at one time and recognized Him as the resurrected Lord. On that first Easter Sunday morning, the quiet following the death of Christ was shattered by followers of Christ who ran about declaring, “He is alive.”
Let me remind you of a fact of the resurrection that many fail to recall. Roman soldiers had been placed there to guard the tomb to see that the followers of Christ did not come and take His body away then declare Him to be risen from the grave. The Bible says that, on resurrection morning, an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and sat down upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow.
The Roman soldiers were so shaken from fear that they became like dead men. The soldiers couldn’t get to the chief priests fast enough to tell them everything that had happened. Were the religious leaders interested in the truth? Absolutely not! Their response was to give a large amount of money to the soldiers and tell them to lie about the whole thing.
What story were the bribed soldiers to tell? They were to report that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body of Jesus while they were asleep.
Now that is an interesting scheme. If the soldiers were asleep, no doubt they would have been poor witnesses of any event at the tomb. This rumor of the body of Christ being stolen from the tomb was still circulating as late as 70 A.D. What is most significant about the rumor is that Christians and Jews alike accepted the fact that the tomb was empty.
We who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ know that the tomb was empty because Jesus resurrected from the grave to once and for all defeat the power of sin and death. He promised that all who believe in Him would have resurrection bodies like His. He promised that we would have life that is eternal.
Paul makes it clear how important it is to believe the resurrection of Christ from the dead. In Romans 10:8-9, Paul declares, “The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
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