We watch the news on every channel. We hear the testimonies of numerous eyewitnesses and see video footage from every imaginable angle. The evidence seems to be overwhelming - but the reports appear to be diametretically opposed. One event; a variety of conclusions.
These stories make for interesting conversation - but they seldom impact our lives.
There is one “news” event, however, whose impact upon every individual ever to have lived or ever to be born, is unavoidable. It is the, “Good News” event we celebrate as Easter.
You need not be religious to clearly see the, “on the scene as it happens” reporting recorded in the Bible - and the two diametrically opposed conclusions to the event.
Jesus was dead. There was no mistaking. The Roman guards witnessed his bloodied and beaten corpse removed from the cross. They, no doubt, observed the hasty preparation of the body for burial and armed themselves to guard the tomb, taking no chance that the body be removed in secret. Jesus was dead and buried. The tomb was sealed and guarded. End of story.
Except for ...
"Reporting live, here at the tomb originally intended for Joseph of Arimathea, this is the disciple, Matthew. Earlier this morning this area experienced an earthquake, the magnitude of which is yet to be reported (Matthew 28:2). We do know that the epicenter appears to have been exactly where we are now standing.
Early reports indicate that the the heavily armed Roman guards, ordered to protect the sealed entrance of the tomb which [then] held the body of Jesus, were, in fact, terrified beyond their ability to respond to what can only be reported as extraordinary events.
We take you now to two eyewitnesses. This is Mary of Magdala and, the other Mary. Tell us, in your own words, just what you experienced.”
Mary of Magdala: “Well sir, this is all so overwheming! Mary and I arrived here early this morning; the sun was just coming up (Matthew 28:1). We brought spices with the intention of finishing the preparation of Jesus’ body (Luke 23:56; Luke 24:1). It all happened so fast! The earthquake; the stone, the guards fleeing for their lives; I don’t know where to begin.”
Matthew: “Just tell us what you witnessed, with your own eyes”
Mary of Magdala: “There was a man;”
The other Mary: “Yes! Yes!”
Mary of Magdala: “He was dressed in white; a luminous bright light!”
The other Mary: “I think THAT is what finally caused the guards to flee!” (Matthew 28:4)
Mary of Magdala: “We were frightened too. But this man, an angel, said to us, ‘Do not be alarmed and frightened, for I know that you are looking for Jesus Who was crucfied. He is not here; He has risen,as He said [He would do]. Come, see the place where He lay.’” (Matthew 28:5-6)
Matthew: “And what did you see?”
The other Mary: “WE DID NOT SEE HIS BODY!” (Luke 24:3)
Mary of Magdala: “The angel told us to go tell His disciples that He was risen from the dead and would meet with them in Galilee!”
Matthew: “We go now to the disciple, John for further information:
John: “Thanks Matt. I am still a bit out of breath having outrun my fellow disciple, Peter, here to the empty tomb. When we heard the news, we had to see for ourselves! And it was just as Mary said. The linen cloths were precisely as they where when they covered Jesus. Oh, and the burial napkin (or kerchief) which had been around Jesus head was separated from the other linens, but [remarkably] was still rolled up! (John 20:5,6) Matthew, as remarkable as it may seem, JESUS IS RISEN; HE IS RISEN INDEED! And I want to go on the record to everyone who reads this report:
“These are written (recorded) in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting in and relying upon Him you may have life through (in) His name [that is, through what He is!]” - John 20:31; Psalms 2:7,12
Matthew: “Good evening. We have breaking news for you. The armed Roman guards who fled the scene of the tomb, therefore breaching their assignment, face severe penalties, even death, for being AWOL. This reporter is hereby documenting that while Mary of Magdala and the other Mary made their way to the disciples, some of the Roman guards made their way back into the city.”
“While they were on their way, behold some of the guard went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had occurred. And when they had gathered with the elders and had consulted together, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers, and said, ‘Tell people, His disciples came at night and stole Himaway while we were sleeping. And if the governor hears of it, wewill appease him and make you safe and free from trouble and care. So they took the money and did as they were instructed, and THIS STORY HAS BEEN CURRENT AMONG THE JEWS TO THE PRESENT DAY.” - Matthew 28:11-15 [AD 33-36; AD 2010...]
Two stories. Two reports - as they happened. Observe all of the testimony. Observe all of the evidence. What is your conclusion? According to the Scripture, each of us must come to a conclusion. Each one of us must choose to believe and live by one story or the other. The choice is unavoidable. Which report do you choose to believe today?
May the glory, power, mercy, love, peace that surpasses all understanding and saving grace of our risen Savior richly bless you!
HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!