Death seemed so final.
It usually is, but the awful events that preceded his passing made it all the more traumatic.
To add to the survivors’ sorrow, they had forsaken him. After claiming they will stand with him, even to the death, they all fled in the face of danger.
They could only watch from a distance as the travesty of justice played out. False accusations, his messages misconstrued, and condemnation of Christ ensued. A king and a governor passed him back and forth, each rendering their own brand of justice. A crown of thorns to mock him as king and a punishing whipping added to the beatings that caused his blood to flow.
Finally, the Roman soldiers did their dark deed. Nailed to a cross like a criminal, Jesus suffered for six hours. Cruel mockery and taunting insults were hurled at him as he hung from the cross.
Signs and wonders were abundant the previous three years as he ministered. Now they occurred again, but with alarming sequence. The skies darkened, the veil in the temple was torn, and the earth quaked. Graves were opened and many saints arose. The Roman centurion openly proclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God.”
Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” His body hung from the cross, limp in death. The Roman governor allowed the body of Jesus to be prepared for burial. Even then, authorities raised concerns about security. They sought Pilate to arrange a guard so that Jesus’ body couldn’t be taken and rumors of a resurrection be raised. “Make it as sure as you can,” Pilate said. So a stone, seal, and solders were put in place at the tomb.
The next few days were misery for the depressed disciples. All of these measures may have made a miracle less likely in their thinking. His death and their doubts were constant companions.
The news they heard the third day was startling. Women who had gone to complete burial preparation, cut short by the Sabbath, reported the tomb was empty. Moreover they encountered angels who proclaimed, “He is not here, he is risen.” They reacted with “fear and great joy.” They were both amazed and afraid. Their reports came to those who mourned and wept. Though it was good news and astonishing, some who heard didn’t believe. Other witnesses affirmed Jesus was alive, but some still didn’t believe. They thought these reports to be “idle tales.” They could not shake their doubts because they had witnessed his death.
The resurrected Lord appeared to a group of his followers, showing them his hands and side as evidence. When they shared that with the others, Thomas stated he had to see for himself or he wouldn’t believe. Eight days later (Jesus appeared to his disciples over a forty day period) Jesus again came to them and said, “Peace be unto you.” To Thomas he said, “be not faithless, but believing” as he showed him his wounds. Thomas then exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”
These events occurred over two thousand years ago, yet the resurrection still causes amazement and rejoicing. Salvation and healing, peace and comfort, hope and assurance all stem from the resurrection. Make it more than a story when you believe “as the scripture hath said.” In this way you can experience the power of a risen, living Lord.
Mitch Glover is pastor of the Sterling Pentecostal Church located on Swanson River Road and Entrada. Services on Sunday include Bible classes for all ages at 10:00 a.m. and worship at 11:00 a.m. Thursday Bible study is at 7:00 p.m. (sterlingpentecostalchurch.com)