Who are you rooting for?


            On the next day, which followed the day of preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while he was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’  Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’  So the last deception will be worse than the first.”  Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.”  So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard (Mathew 27: 62-66.)


            An ‘empty tomb’ frightened the Jewish leaders, who considered Jesus to be a deceiver.  Jesus had prophesied often concerning the third day of his burial.  He made his resurrection the final proof of his claims about being ‘The Son of God.’  All of the healings, all of the miracles, all of the wise words, all for nothing if he did not rise from the dead as he had proclaimed he would.  The Pharisees (religious leaders) didn’t believe in miracles, or the power of God.  They thought theft was the only means by which his body could go missing.  They faithlessly prepared a defense against earthly forces, not considering the power of a divine adversary.  They petitioned Pilate, the Roman Governor to provide them with battle hardened professional soldiers, capable of repelling even the most aggressive foe.  These leaders received their guard, and made the tomb secure.  Later in scripture we read what happened to these strong soldiers; the earth shook beneath them, and an angel appeared with such glory that they fell to the ground as if dead.  The angel then rolled the stone away from the entrance, and the Lord rose from the dead.

            American’s have made sports a part of their national identity.  One facet of that identity is a desire to see the ‘underdog’ overcome impossible odds and attain victory.  The ‘comeback’ is a term that most of us are familiar with.  In basketball, when we see a team that is losing in the fourth quarter by 16 points, with two minutes remaining, the game is all but over (some even turn off the T.V. or leave the stadium to get ahead of traffic.)  Just occasionally something amazing happens in those two minutes.  The team scores 2 points and steals the ball, they score again quickly, and again they get the ball back.  Each time they score, excitement builds in the hearts and minds of those who stayed to watch.  Finally, the game comes down to one last shot, and if the ‘underdog’ makes it, the game will go down in history; if they miss it, they lose, and all of the excitement and anticipation was for nothing.  No one remembers the ‘almost-miraculous.’  The ministry of Jesus Christ began with the miraculous, finished with the miraculous, and continues with the miraculous today.  Every miracle, every person that he brought to life, every healing, would have been for nothing had he failed to rise from the dead.  Had the body of Jesus been in the tomb, he would not be in the hearts and minds of millions of people today.  There would be no churches, no changed lives, no forgiveness of sins, no Holy Spirit, no meaning and purpose for living, and no hope for a future life with a loving God.  Jesus was victorious over his opponent in one final act.  He was raised to life; he defeated death; and all those who cheered for and hoped in him will eternally share in His victory.

            No one has ever produced the body of Jesus Christ; no tomb raider, no historian, no king, no religious leader; though thousands, if not millions have tried.   The reason they can’t find his body, is because he isn’t dead.  To those who have faith, and know the power of God, we have a hope in eternal life, with an eternal God, in a paradise prepared by Him.  To those who believe his body was stolen, they have no future, and no hope in anything but eternal separation from God.  In every generation, in every human heart, the question, “Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead?” must be answered.  The answer to this question puts you on one of two opposing sides, and only one side has a future with God!  Look to God’s power, and not human understanding, and a miracle will happen in your heart, and in your life now, and the life to come.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You Lord and we thank You for the resurrection.  We ask Lord that You increase our faith, and our hope in You.  Lord help us to minister to those who have not yet found an empty tomb, and a resurrected Lord.  Give us more of Your Holy Spirit, and help us to accept the victory that You have already won for us.  We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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