The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 4/15

Posted on | April 15, 2016 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 4/15

Scripture reading: Matthew 28:11–15

Grave Concerns

Imagine how a first century newspaper in Jerusalem would cover the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

The front page might have an article that looked something like this:

 

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BTP—Biblical Times Press                  Jerusalem, Tuesday, April 15, 33 AD           Body of Jesus Missing

The body of Jesus of Nazareth has disappeared. Police are baffled by what appears to be a bizarre case of grave robbing, and the city is filled with rumors as authorities try to account for the empty tomb.

Last week, in highly publicized events, Jesus (33), was arrested, tried, and crucified. Late Friday afternoon his body was laid to rest in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin. Claiming to be the “King of the Jews,” Jesus was condemned by the Roman authorities for political insurrection. Jewish leaders, however, noted that the real motivation for his execution was blasphemy: he claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Both Jewish and Roman leaders hoped that the execution would put an end to the turmoil surrounding his life and ministry. They believed that his death would crush the movement that he had started.

Early Sunday morning friends of Jesus went to the tomb with spices to anoint his body. Eyewitnesses state that the stone was rolled away and the body missing. Though Jewish authorities had placed a guard at the tomb, all of the soldiers were apparently asleep when the body disappeared. When Jewish leaders were asked what punishment would fall on the guards for such failure in duty, authorities would only say that the matter was being handled privately.

When asked about the incident, Caiaphas, the High Priest, refused our request for an interview. However, in a prepared statement, his public relations officer said simply that the disciples had stolen the body. When asked about a possible motive for such a crime, he had no comment.

The story took a bizarre twist when some eyewitnesses gave a different explanation for the missing body. “There was no grave robbery,” said Mary Magdalene assertively. “Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive and I’ve seen him.” Other reports of “Jesus sightings” are under investigation by our staff.

Simon Peter, the leader of Jesus’ disciples, was contacted on Monday and con- firmed the resurrection theory. “We’re not talking about a spirit or a hallucination,” he said. “I’ve spoken with Jesus, touched him, and watched him eat broiled fish. He is definitely alive. The evidence will convince anyone honest enough to want to know the truth.” We asked Peter to arrange an interview with Jesus so that our staff could corroborate his story. “I doubt he will agree to that kind of a meeting” is all Peter would say.

The city is deeply divided with passions running high. As rumors continue to circulate, people are rapidly lining up on both sides of the issue. One astute city official put the matter this way: “Neutrality in this case is simply impossible! It is as if everyone is being forced to choose one side or the other. Is Jesus the living Lord? Or is he a dead imposter? There is enough evidence to make faith possible, but not enough to make it inevitable.”

The case remains open.

 

I didn’t become a Christian because God promised I would have an even happier life than I had as an atheist. He never promised            any such thing . . . Rather, I became a Christian because the evidence was so compelling . . .

—Lee Strobel

point to ponder The empty tomb is a historical fact that even Jesus’ fiercest enemies confirm.

prayer focus For skeptics and agnostics, that they would honestly examine the evidence for the resurrection.

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