Read Matthew 26;57-66.
Acts 12:4, “And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”
American Christians have three important observances regarding Christ:
On Christmas day we celebrate the birth of Christ.
On Good Wednesday or Thursday, we celebrate His death.
On Easter or Resurrection Sunday we celebrate His resurrection.
This is what makes Christianity different from all religions. No other religion claims that its founder returned from the grave. Christ’s Resurrection is critical to our faith. It proves that He is the Son of God. One could ignore the evidence that He did in fact rise from the dead, but once he admits that he arose than he must also admit that He is God.
We cannot be absolutely certain from His teaching that He is God.
We cannot be absolutely certain from His miracles that He is God.
We cannot be absolutely certain from His holy life that He is God.
But, when He raised Himself from the dead He settled that fact forever and the crowning proof of His Deity is not His birth, His teaching, His mighty works or His sinless life. The crowning proof of His Deity is His resurrection from the dead.
Anyone who could raise Himself from the dead would have to be God. There are those who believe Christ never rose, but that His disciples only made up the story of His resurrection. The first problem with that position is the fact that He is risen and His tomb is empty. This much is certain: His body was placed in the tomb, with a huge stone was placed at the entrance; a Roman seal was affixed, thereby making the crime punishable by death if broken, and sixteen Soldiers were assigned to guard the tomb day and night to prevent his body from being stolen.
Four quaternions or four companies of four soldiers each; making a total of sixteen. One company would guard Him for three hours and was relieved by another. Two soldiers would watch in prison and two at the gates.
Every conceivable precaution was taken, yet on the third day the tomb was empty. Christ’s body was missing. Somehow it had gotten away. Even the soldiers acknowledged this! In their cover-up story they accused the disciples of coming by night while they were asleep and stealing Christ’s body away. That in itself is an acknowledgment that the body was gone.
No one, neither friend nor foe, denied that the body was gone. That was too obvious to deny. The question is how had it gotten away when so many precautions had been taken to prevent it? The soldiers were bribed by the leaders into saying that the disciples came by night while they slept and stole Christ’s body away. There are three problems with this:
• If they were asleep, how could they know what happened?
• If He really did not die, why would they put Him in a tomb?
• If He did die, why didn’t they produce the body?
There is no way to explain the empty tomb or the transformation which occurred in the lives of the disciples apart from Christ’s resurrection from the dead. If he had not risen His movement would have died. The tomb which held His body would have brought it to an end. Thankfully it didn’t happen that way, because the tomb which held His body three days before is now empty. Please read Matthew 28: l-8.
Pardon me if I get a little emotional about this. The resurrection of Christ is no myth. It is one of the best established facts in history, supported by the strongest evidence possible. So, what difference does it make? All the difference in the world and in the world to come! If Christ were only a human, we could write Him off as just another figure of history. However, since He is The Divine Son of God and Saviour of mankind; we dare not write Him off, because our destiny rides on our relationship with Him.
To each of us He becomes a matter of life or death, heaven or hell. In and through Him we can be saved; apart from Him we are lost. Christ is a great deal more than a moral teacher or noble example. He is the Son of God and Savior of mankind. This is proven beyond all doubt by His resurrection from the dead.
The question is what are you going to do about it? What an opportunity to say along with those at the tomb, “He is risen, come see the empty tomb.” Let Him show Himself to you; let Him show you His nailed scared hands and feet; let Him show you His spear pierced side; let Him show you the way to heaven.