Getting Ready for Easter 2021

As I write this post, it is Saturday, 4PM PST in California. Yesterday was Good Friday and tomorrow is Easter Sunday. For those who on the other side of the International Date Line, it IS Easter Sunday so an early “Happy Resurrection Sunday!” to you.

Yesterday, I wrote the second in my “10 Minute Sermon” on Good Friday about the trial of Jesus and discussed just who really was on trial. This is probably the third in the “10 Minute Sermon” series.

Many years ago, a preacher once said to the effect that Christians are perpetually living on Saturday; Good Friday has passed; our sins are forgiven but it is not yet Sunday; we have not yet experienced the full effect of resurrection – no more sin and shame. The analogy is a little weak but I understand his point. Christians ought to be looking forward to Jesus’s Second Coming – the Rapture and then 1000 year reign.

What is so special about Easter 2021? Unlike Easter 2020 when we were just starting the quarantine with no end in sight, this year, the end appears to be in sight. There is a COVID-19 vaccine and a lot of people have already been vaccinated. People are looking to a better future despite talks of raising corporate taxes and a giant spending bill that the US Congress wants to pass. Major league sports are restarting so we could be back in our favorite stadiums rooting for our favorite teams.

However, we can never forget what Easter is really about. Last year, I wrote a post called What Easter is Really About. In that post, I reminded people that the central tenet of Easter has always been the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I had discussed how it cannot be explained away by the natural, especially the Swooning Theory. I found that one extremely ludicrous and every doctor who has studied the details of the Passion all conclude Jesus did indeed die. There is indeed a true miracle because Jesus did appear to multiple people – his family, his disciples, and 500 others (1 Corinthians 15). We do not know who was in the 500 and perhaps there were more. After all, Jesus was around for 40 days before ascending. If Jesus was going to the market or still gathering in semi-public, they too might believe on the spot.

In going over the other theories trying to explain away the resurrection, I am amazed just how little rational basis some of them have. Like the “Wrong Tomb” theory. The theory states that the women, the disciples, and the angels were at the wrong tomb. I find that super hard to believe. First of all, the Gospel accounts all describe the tomb in detail so you cannot miss it. In the Gospels, the tomb is described as having a giant stone in front. This might be common, except it should have in Matthew 27:66, the officials put a seal on the tomb and posted a guard. You cannot miss a guard detail of 12-16 people standing around.

Secondly, in the synoptic Gospels, the authors noted that Mary Magdalene, the other Mary were present when Joseph of Arimathea sealed the tomb. They had been there once. Surely they could have found it again. Now, before you joke about women and their stereotypical inability to navigate, remember that there were plenty of local landmarks and details that the women could have followed. The women knew that this was a new tomb and thus freshly dug. They would be heading to a part of Jerusalem that was away from the older tombs. It’s like to going to housing development zones so new that they are not even on the older GPS devices.

Thirdly, the high priests and those who had a strong vested interest in denying the resurrection knew where the right tomb was. Surely they could have led everyone there – “See? You can’t miss it. Second stone to the left. The one where Decurion Gaius and his boys are standing. The one where we attached our signet.”

Fourth, I have to wonder how supernatural beings who are much smarter and more powerful than we are also missed the right tomb.

Lastly, consider the rules and regulations in the Roman army or the auxiliary forces. A standard guard detachment is anywhere up to 16 legionnaires. If they are guarding a prisoner and the prisoner escapes, their lives are forfeit. If the guards were convicted of dereliction of duty – like allowing a prisoner to escape – the guilty would be beaten to death by his fellow soldiers. These guards were going to be on alert. In fact, the cover story in Matthew 28:12-14 where the chief priests told them to say – that the disciples came and stole Jesus’s body at night while they were sleeping – made them look even worse. If all sixteen were all sleeping, they were all dead. Nevertheless, the guards took the money and the chief priests promised not to report them and to deal with their superiors.

If you ever hear the “Wrong Tomb” theory being bandied about today, go ahead and roll your eyes. You have my permission to scoff because it is so impossible. All of the above facts, from the presence of the guards to the women having made multiple trips, to the fake cover story, it takes more belief to believe this theory than Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Happily, many of these myths have fallen by the wayside in light of 1) reading the Bible carefully and 2) using your brain. Perhaps this theory might come back in ten years or so like some fashion fads but I really hope we bury it for good and that it stays dead.

Now that I have debunked the Wrong Tomb theory, I have to ask: what does this mean? How does this affect me?

First of all, as Pastor David Jeremiah reminded us, it means that the Lord Jesus Christ keeps his promises. He said he would be back and He did come back. All of his other promises – grace, peace, hope, and new life – can also be trusted. Earlier, I mentioned that we live expectantly of a new body free from sin so we can rest in that too.

Second, you really cannot outsmart God. You end up looking like a great fool trying to cover up lies. No matter how hard they tried in the 1st century AD or the Enlightenment thinkers in the 18th century AD, or the top atheists in the 20th and 21st centuries AD, they have not succeed at all in keeping Jesus buried.

He is risen and stays risen.

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