The first statement, "He is not here," everyone believes. Nobody disputes that the tomb was empty on that first Sunday morning.
The second statement, only Christians believe, that He is risen.
You set yourself in one camp or another by whether you believe that Jesus Christ is risen, or just that the tomb is empty.
Matthew sets out the choice very clearly, when he says,
"Some of the tomb's guard came into the city, and told the chief priests what had happened. When the chief priests heard this, they gave the soldiers a huge bribe, and told them to say, "His disciples came while we slept, and stole Him away from the tomb. the soldiers did as they were told, and this story is repeated among the Jews today."
On the other hand,
Matthew says this:
"The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and the soldiers shook and were paralyzed with fear at the sight of him. When the two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary arrived at the tomb, the angel terrified them as well, but he said to them, "Don't be afraid; Jesus is not here. He has risen, as He said. Come see where the Lord laid. The women hurried off to tell everyone, and on the way, Jesus met them Himself, and said, "Hi, you two!" They were shocked, and fell at his feet, holding on for dear life, and worshipped Him. He said, " Don't be afraid. Go tell my brethren to go into Galilee; there they will see me. So the women hurried off to tell everyone that He had risen from the dead."
Over the next week or so, Jesus personally appeared to most of the other apostles, and then appeared later to the others.
So here's the point:
You can believe the soldiers' story, and your world is the same as it was before you heard the story of Jesus.
Or you can believe the women's story, and your life is forever different.
Which will it be?
The soldiers, paid to tell their story? Remember, if the story they told was true, they never would have told it. Pilate would have had them executed for what they did--sleeping rather than keeping watch.
The women and the rest of the disciples, whose lives were not only changed by the reality of what they experienced, but endured incredible hardship and suffering just to keep telling it?
Why would they tell the story if it wasn't true? You can't really say, "It was true only to them;" there were too many of them, spread across days and weeks, and then there were the occasional appearances afterward to individuals (see Saul, Acts 9), some of whom did not believe until after they processed His appearance to them.
If you believe the first, nothing happens. You go back to living your life as it was before the story was told to you.
If you believe the second--that Jesus both died and rose from the dead, you have announced your belief in a plan so powerful, and a Lord so mighty, that He not only personally defeated death, but defeated it for you, and in so doing changed the course of the universe.
Why believe the second?
Because if you ask God, and sincerely do so, to speak to you personally about this, He will. Maybe not right now, or even today, but if you seek Him with all your heart, He will respond to you, and show you.
Please don't tell me that believing is merely "subjective knowledge;" all you are doing if you say this is betraying your premises: that you believe in a God who does nothing--He doesn't invade space and time; or that you believe in no god at all.
If this really is your belief system, don't dress it up by calling it "objective." That's like putting a fine suit on a homeless man and calling him a successful businessman.
Your objectivity is nonexistent, since your "objectivity" comes from your premises--"these things do not, and could not, happen. Miracles, especially those conquering our universal enemy, death--those cannot be." And that makes your objectivity subjective. It's based on a preconceived notion.
Knowledge is always subjective, because it's based on perception, whatever the science folks may say.
Still not convinced? I'm not surprised. However, if you are willing to be convinced, then you can actually MEET this person in whom you don't yet believe.
Jesus said that He would send His Spirit to the world, and that the Spirit would convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment--then He gave a series of statements about what the Spirit would do. Focus on the first statement, though. The Spirit is here to provide convincing reality to you about the presence of God, about His plan for you, about Jesus Christ. He is willing to do that personally. Ask God to show you His reality. Ask Him about Jesus Christ. Ask sincerely. Read the New Testament, so you'll have some idea of what happened with Jesus and His disciples. Let God, if He's there, speak to you. Seek an encounter with the living God. You'll seek Him, and He will find you.
Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.
A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching, and now I'm working my way through the New Testament. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage. I'm still writing, of course, and my written posts appear here.
Sunday, April 5, 2015
"He is not here...He is risen, as He said."
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