The Truth, the Lie, and the Power of the Resurrection

Regardless of where one is on the political spectrum, there is a tendency to see news from someone who differs as “fake news,” or at least believe that facts have been selected or manipulated. The account in Matthew 28:1–15 of the resurrection of Christ gives rise to an attempt to spin the news of the empty tomb.

Believe the truth: Christ has been raised from the dead. Listen to the angel announce the empty tomb. The women arrived to perform their last service to their Lord. They had been faithful during his earthly ministry. They, unlike the frightened disciples, had witnessed the death and burial of their Lord, Matthew 27:55,56. Now they were visiting the tomb, and, as the other gospels tell us, intended to anoint the body. An angel rolled away the stone to reveal the empty tomb. His majestic appearance struck terror in the hearts of the guards, who apparently fainted or were paralyzed with fear. Rolling back the stone was not so much to allow the Lord to exit (his risen body could appear in wonderful ways), but to show that the tomb was indeed empty. What had been a sealed barrier becomes a convenient seat! God provides an angelic messenger with the news that the empty tomb is explained by the resurrection of the Lord. “Yes, the living Saviour, alive for evermore, is the same Jesus who suffered and died. We cannot know him as the living One in any other identity. and we cannot know him in his vicarious suffering and death on our behalf in any other identity than that defined by his resurrection and the endless life that is his by the great event of the first Lord’s day.” (“The Living Saviour,” Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 1, p. 43)

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Placed in a New Tomb

Sometimes it takes a death to make us realize how much a person means to us. There may have been something of that in Joseph of Airmathea’s actions as he buries Jesus in his own tomb, recorded in Matthew 27:57–66.

Jesus’ burial marks the end of his life of humiliation in your place. Jesus’ death draws people to himself. First the centurion confesses, “Truly, this was the Son of God,” and now, Joseph, from the town of Arimathea, is drawn into an active confession of Christ. Joseph’s faith contrasts with the fear of the disciples. They have fled (though John was present for at least part of the crucifixion). Joseph was a prominent member of the Council (Luke 23:51 tells us that he had not consented to Jesus’ death). Now he openly acknowledges Christ as he goes to Pilate, the Roman governor, and asks for the body of Jesus. Despite the fact that Jesus has just been condemned and executed like a criminal, despite the fact that the Sanhedrin seems to have won in its conflict with Jesus, Joseph asks for the body, removes it from the cross, wraps it in clean linen cloth for burial, and places it in the rock-hewn tomb that he had prepared for himself. “The discrepancy between the majesty of God and the body of the man Jesus was never as great as now. This was all a part of His humiliation, but those who buried Him did not understand that.” (K. Schilder, Christ Crucified, p. 555) Women had been mentioned watching the crucifixion, and now two of them are still there observing the burial.

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