Sunday, March 14, 2010

What If You Had a Resurrection and Nobody Came?

Well, actually nobody did come.
I mean a Roman guard came, but that's because he had to. (Matt. 27:65-66 NIV) And the next chapter says "Guards" so at some point there was at least one more added, it doesn't say when. (Matt. 28:4 NIV) Maybe it was his relief. If so, bad timing, because they would soon be scared to death!
But, of course, they couldn't be scared to death, because there was so much "Resurrection" power right there at that very moment, or as my Springfield, Missouri friends say, "Holy-Ghost-Pre-Pentacost-White-flame-Fire" Power, that if they did, they'd be immediately resurrected. And depending on how long that process took, how long the earthquake lasted, and how scared they were each time they came to, those guards would probably hold the worlds record for "most consecutive revivals".
So if they "saw" anything, what exactly did they see?
Well, there was an earthquake, so they maybe saw things get shook up. I don't really know what that looked like. I've seen what my hair looks like in the morning, but that's not scary, it's just funny.
to me, at least.
But the Bible does say this in Matt. 28: 2-3:

2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

It doesn't say that the guards saw Jesus come out. So they didn't actually see Jesus resurrect, not that they could see anything. I mean, the text says the angel's appearance was like lightning.
I don't think that he was all strobe-light-y or anything, but my opinion is that his was an intense brilliance that cast a light unlike that from the sun or from a fire. And because they weren't used to it, it probably temporarily blinded them.
BUT they might have heard the angel.

5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

The women then took off to tell the other disciples, but ran into Jesus before they reached them. The guards, though, were still dazed and confused at the tomb. The bible doesn't say what happened to the angel; he might have still been there ominously hovering over the stunned guards whilst atop the tombstone, like a live, Victorian gargoyle.
However, I like to think he was just sitting there smiling, and as they came to their senses and slowly got to their feet, he motioned to the tomb, now empty, and then slowly motioned to the path that led back to the city.

11While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' 14If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble."

Now, the soldiers that were dispatched to the tomb were soldiers under Pilate's authority, the Governor of Judea. But although he was a Roman, these auxiliary soldiers were locally recruited soldiers; possibly Jews. If so, they knew of the prophecies of a coming Messiah, and may have been familiar with the teachings and life of Jesus in relation to the then known scriptures.
When the priests and the elders told them that they should lie about what really happened, the huge sum of money that they gave them would be for their forthcoming unemployment. Pilate wouldn't waste time punishing useless Jews anyway, since there were so many other locals to choose from. So the guards went back to their lives. Uneventful, unfortunate.
But things were different now. With some of the guards.
Remember, it says:

"While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened."

Only some.

Some witnessed the completion of the sacrificial ceremony and atonement for the sins of all mankind.
And it hits them hard.
As hard as the stone that the angel of the Lord sits upon in front of the tomb.
And as their comrades run off toward the city at the invitation of their magnificent, shimmering visitor, these few turn their gazes toward the direction of a group of Jewish women who run with the same burning desire of truth in their hearts.
A hope against hope that this may indeed be a risen Messiah.
That the Hope of the Ages, the Lord Mighty to Save, now walks the path, a few step hence, to Galilee.
What would keep them from running after Him?
What could possibly fetter their feet?
What chains could hold their hearts?
What would stop them?


They are no longer there. They have all made their choice whether to go to the city or to follow Him to Galilee.
When the women, and later the disciples, saw Jesus,
"they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him."

Where are we in our worship? He is only a few steps ahead.
What would keep us from running after Him?
What could possibly fetter our feet?
What chains could hold our hearts?
What would stop us?

Unfortunately, my list of answers to these questions is long, I'm afraid. God help me.
We are coming the end of the Lenten season; Easter. The Resurrection. I hope to have a shorter list by then.
Maybe no list at all.

And I pray I run to worship Him.

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