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Ron’s Reflections Pull the other one!

‘Pull the other one, next you’ll be telling me Jesus rose from the dead.’ Could you hear yourself responding in this sort of a way to the Christian message that Jesus was crucified, and three days later rose from the dead? Yet this is what millions of Christians around the world will be celebrating on Easter Sunday. It appears a bit incredible

doesn’t it? It is hard enough to believe that an innocent man would even choose to die in the place of the guilty – but then to rise from the dead – how can you believe that? In a representative survey1 of 2,545 English adults, apparently 43% believe in the resurrection of

Jesus – are they wrong? I haven’t got the space here to go in to all of the evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection, but below are a few points which particularly stand out for me that I hope you will ponder, at least a little, this Easter.

Evidence of the tomb – After Jesus’ death on the cross (confirmed by a guard putting a spear into His side which drew a flow of blood and ‘water’) He was placed in a tomb with a large stone rolled across the entrance. Two days later (on what Christians celebrate as Easter Sunday) the stone had been rolled back, but there was no sign of Jesus in the tomb. The tomb was sealed with a Roman seal and to break it was a very serious matter. The Romans

would conduct a man-hunt and execute the culprit. It is hard to believe the disciples, who all ran away at the arrest of Jesus, or anyone else at the time would risk breaking the seal and opening the tomb. It is also interesting that the culprit was never found. It is unlikely that the stone was rolled away without the Roman guards, who protected the tomb, noticing (or that they were asleep as some suppose). When they discovered the empty tomb they appeared to be so frozen with terror they were ‘like dead men’. It is incredible to think any human intervention could have caused these professional fighting men to stand by and watch while Jesus’ body was taken away knowing that they were likely to pay for their dereliction of duty with their lives. Finally there were the grave cloths. These were not ripped to shreds as if someone had torn them off the body in a hurry, but instead laying complete, as if Jesus had emerged from a Chrysalis.

Evidence of the disciples

Evidence of the disciples – Here were a group of Jesus followers absolutely terrified by Jesus’ arrest, prosecution and crucifixion. They all ran away when he was arrested and Peter, when challenged, denied Jesus three times. It is inconceivable that these few frightened men followers would have the courage to stand against the might of Rome to steal Jesus’ body – and to what purpose? Surely if they were going to take such a risk it would be to save Him from the cross, not to snatch His body. Christian’s believe, as the Bible states, that after Jesus disappeared from the tomb he was resurrected. The disciples had nothing to gain from stealing Jesus’ dead body and making up a story about His resurrection. They did not seek or receive wealth, secular power or prestige - instead they were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Would we give up our lives for what we knew to be a lie – of course not. They gave their lives for what they were certain of - Jesus is alive and they saw Him

Over 500 witnesses - There is an early letter from Paul2 which claims that Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time (in addition to a number of other named individuals) – and that most of them were still alive at the time Paul wrote. He was saying in effect, if you don’t believe me, go and ask these people for yourself. Now we don’t have the luxury of going back 2,000 years and asking them ourselves – but that this assertion could be made so soon after the event, and was accepted by recipients as far as history can tell us without dispute, is a powerful testimony to its truth.

Still not convinced? OK, you may not be convinced by the facts but it’s hard to ignore the evidence of your own experience. I ask you to do one thing before you put down this article – ask Him to reveal Himself to you in some way. During the coming week say a short prayer - something like ‘Jesus. If you really are alive, reveal yourself to me this week. Amen’. Go on - give it a go, what can you lose? You could gain more than you imagine.

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