Truth On Fire

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Long Gone!

In reading Matthew’s account of resurrection events, I was reminded afresh that Jesus was ALREADY risen and had exited the tomb BEFORE Mary Magdalene and the other Mary arrived “to see the sepulcher” ((Matthew 28:1-6). They found the “great stone” placed by Joseph of Arimathaea STILL in tact and the “keepers” (Roman soldiers) STILL standing watch. The great stone had been “sealed” by soldiers in the process of “setting a watch” (27:66).  

It was in the presence of BOTH the women and the keepers that the angel of the Lord appeared, shook the earth and “rolled back the stone from the door” (28:2). His glorious presence struck fear into the keepers, so much so that they “became as dead men” (28:4). He then told the women: “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (28:5-6). The rolling back of the stone was NOT to let Jesus OUT, but to let the women IN to “see” where the body of Jesus had laid.  

Walk through any cemetery and you’ll see a number of grave markers with the acronym “R.I.P.” (Rest In Peace) engraved on the granite. I submit to you it would have been entirely appropriate for “R.I.P.” (Risen In Power) to have been engraved on that stone. 

We don’t know exactly how many soldiers were involved in the watch. But we do know it was scheduled for three days (27:64) so that (1) his claim to rise in three days would have expired, and (2) his disciples would have no opportunity to steal the body and make the “error” worse.  Did the watch consist of four soldiers per shift, or perhaps twelve? The fact is a thousand Navy Seals armed with AR-15’s could not have kept Jesus' glorified body from walking through that stone!

Jesus was considered a “DECEIVER’ (27:63) by the religious elites. After they heard first-hand, eye-witness testimony from the "keepers” about the earthquake, angelic appearance and the empty tomb, they contrived a DECEPTION of their own, paying “large money” (28:12) to false witnesses to establish a ‘stolen body’ alibi. That must have been quite a substantial cash bribe, a retainer of sorts, for keepers ‘on the take’ and others to admit to being overcome by a little band of disciples—an ‘Unarmed Insurrection’!

By the time those women got to the tomb on that Sunday morning, Jesus was LONG GONE. Forty days later, he was "GONE into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him" (1 Peter 3:22). But he's not going to stay gone. Any day now he's going to come “in the air” to catch away his Church. Then we believers will be LONG GONE with him! text


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