The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” (Matthew 27:62-64)
We belong to the church of the resurrected Christ. We are the Church of the Resurrection. The power of the early church was in the Holy Spirit and in the message, and the message was simple: Jesus, the Messiah, whom you crucified, has risen from the dead.
This is the most powerful news ever. You can’t get any more explosive than this. No one has ever risen from the dead. No one has ever come back from the grave in a recognizable human form and interacted with his friends and followers in normal, natural ways such as walking, talking, eating with them and touching them. No one. We are not in competition here for religions. We are following a paradigm-altering event. We are in relationship with a miracle.
Even the leading priests and Pharisees knew the power of this message, so they did all they could to prevent a hoax. They were afraid of what might happen should this take hold. (Of course, they were not attempting to stop the news of a real resurrection, since they didn’t believe that was possible. They were going to stop the disciples from stealing the body and then saying He was resurrected.) So they had a heavy stone rolled over the entrance to the tomb where they put the dead body. Then they sealed it closed, probably with some kind of goopy tar that would dry hard. And then, just to be sure, they posted guards there round the clock. And why go to all that trouble? They said it: “If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” They knew that even a fake resurrection would create a movement, so imagine their angst at getting a real one. This is why the message of the resurrection was the center and heart of the message of the early church. It was where the power lay. They reminded each other of it every day. Their form of greeting was “The Lord is risen.” That’s what they said instead of, “Hi, how are you?”
So given this, why do we only hear about the resurrection on Easter? Why is it not daily on our lips? When was the last time you told someone that Jesus rose from the dead? It is the most explosive news we possess as human beings. Don’t keep this one to yourself.
“The Lord is risen!”
“The Lord is risen, indeed!”
Yesterday we made the point that the Las Vegas shooter seemed bent on taking his own life and the lives of as many people as he possibly could with him. Jesus was bent on rising from the dead, and taking as many people as He possibly could with Him through the portal of death, alive, into eternity. The Bible calls Him the first fruit of all those who would follow Him into Life.* You either are, or you can be one of those. That is surely the greatest news ever.