What a Day!

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.  Acts 2:24

What death did to Jesus is nothing compared to what Jesus did to death. For Christ did the unimaginable – He overcame death. It was a morning beyond belief. “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!” Robert Lowry.

That’s the Gospel truth. Christ conquered death. The impossible became possible. The grave couldn’t hold Him. Darkness was vanquished. The graveclothes were empty – the body gone. O what a day! “When death stung Jesus Christ, it stung itself to death” Peter Joshua. For on the third day He was raised according to the Scriptures (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:4). As it says in Acts 2:24, “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” Hallelujah! After dying for our sins on the cross of Calvary Christ defeated death and hell through the power of His resurrection. This isn’t an appendage to the Christian faith; this is the faith. The resurrection is the epicentre of our belief.  It’s indispensable. C. H. Dodd says, “It’s not a belief that grew up within the church; it is the belief around which the church itself grew up, and the ‘given’ upon which its faith was based.”

Yes, the stone was rolled to the mouth of the tomb in order to seal it, but God made sure it didn’t stay there. It was rolled away and the angel sitting on it said to the women who came looking for Jesus, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said … He has risen from the dead … Now I have told you” Matthew 28:5-7.

No other religion can match that. No other religion has a founder who’s overcome death. Asoka, a past Emperor of India, distributed Buddha’s ashes in minute portions to eighty-four thousand shrines all over India. Buddhism is therefore centred around the worship of ashes. It’s focussed on a dead founder. But Christianity is different, radically different. It centres on none other than the living Lord Jesus Christ. For Christianity begins where all other faiths end – with an empty tomb, with its originator conquering death.

Yet cynics and critics have tried to explain the empty tomb away. They propose a number of theories: Skeptics argue that it was the wrong tomb. But if it were the wrong tomb, the Pharisees and Sadducees who put Jesus to death certainly would have found the right tomb, opened it up, and produced the dead and decaying body of Jesus Christ. Others say that Joseph of Arimathea took the body. But the problem with this theory is that Joseph had no motive or opportunity to take the body. Besides, Joseph was a devout Jew and he wouldn’t have broken the Sabbath. Still others speculate that the disciples stole the body. This doesn’t fit with what we know of the lives of these men. They weren’t dishonest and they weren’t very clever. On the night of Jesus’ arrest they still didn’t understand He was going to die, let alone be raised (cf. John 13:36). They also didn’t know what to think when they saw the empty tomb (cf. John 20:9). Furthermore, if this hypothesis were true then we’d have to believe that the disciples persisted in a hoax and were prepared to die for a corpse, for something they knew to be false.

Thus there can be no other conclusion other than what the Bible teaches, i.e. the tomb was empty because Christ had risen from the dead. O what a day! Jesus had risen just as He said He would and in so doing proved once for all that He is the “resurrection and the life” John 11:25.

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