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Monday, April 15, 2013

Up From the Grave He Arose

By Douglas Hoff
    The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian Faith. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christians are following a hoax. However, it can be proved that he did indeed come forth from the grave. Because of this, Christians have the hope (assurance) of one day being resurrected also and enjoying eternal life in heaven with him.
     Proof for the resurrection is found in the four accounts of the Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Each writer presents testimony regarding the empty tomb. The New Testament documents are historically accurate accounts. Over the centuries they have been repeatedly verified as being without error. The four accounts of the Gospel were circulated in the first century. If they were not true or contained errors, people would have spoken up to discredit them. Paul reminded king Agrippa and Festus that the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection from the grave were not done in a corner, but were well known historial facts (Acts 26:26). Since Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the tomb was empty, the modern reader can be sure of it.
     The stone door sealing the tomb of Jesus had been rolled away and His body was gone. Who did it? There are only two possibilities. Either Jesus was resurrected by God as the Bible says or his dead body was removed by men. But, who among men would want to remove his body from the tomb? None would.
     Certainly the unbelieving Jews would not want to. They had specifically requested a guard to watch the tomb. They knew Jesus had claimed he would rise the third day. They were even afraid the disciples would come and steal his body to make it appear he had been resurrected. If they had removed his body, they could have shown Jesus to be a fake by presenting his corpse to the public after the tomb was empty on the third day. But they did not do it because they could not. They did not remove his body.
     The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb would not steal the body of Jesus. The sepulcher had been sealed and they had been ordered to keep it secure. Soldiers who had a man to escape while in their care would lose their lives (cf. Acts 12:18,19; 27:42). Thus, when the body was gone, they were fearful of what might befall them (Matt. 28:11-15).
     The disciples of Jesus would not have stolen the body. Though the guards were bribed to tell people that his disciples had taken his body, such a story is full of holes. The guards were to say they had fallen asleep while on duty. But, here’s the problem. How would sleeping guards know who stole the body? They would not because they would have been asleep! Also, consider this. How likely would it be for all the guards to be asleep at the same time? Even if they had been asleep, would they not have awakened when they heard someone rolling away the massive stone that covered the mouth of the tomb? Matthew 28:1-5 shows the guards were quite awake when an angel of the Lord rolled the stone away. When they saw the angel they became like “dead men.” Another thing this passage shows is that the two Marys came to the tomb at this time. Thus, they would have seen if the guards were sleeping.
     When John came to the tomb the third day and saw that it was empty, he believed (John 20:8). It is not necessary for the modern Bible reader to personally see the risen Christ before he can believe. The risen Savior told Thomas, “...because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed” (John 20:29). Belief comes by examining the credible evidence found in the Scriptures.
     Since men did not remove Jesus’ body from the tomb, the only alternative is that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God. 

 
- via the Nile Street Notes, the weekly bulletin of the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL; R. W. McAlister preaches for the congregation and may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/


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