Friday, August 31, 2007

He Lives

I know I appear to be out of season again. But something has been haunting my every waking (and sleeping) hour since I stumbled across it on a message board a week or so ago. Maybe longer; time gets away from me. Rest easy. It has nothing to do with the JCRB, Ephraim's Camp, or priestcraft. Although, on the other hand, in the grand scheme of things maybe it does. If the world church, whatever that is, has its way, or if the politically correct left continues to cater to Islam, to the exclusion of Christianity, we'll all be under one umbrella and then, God help us, who knows what the creed will dictate? For now, however, I'll concentrate on the matter at hand, that of the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. It has been the bedrock of Christianity ever since the three women came to the tomb that first morning. Despite the introduction of the "universal consciousness" mentality, the New Age movement, and the Emerging Church, the physical resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ stands as the fundamental underpinning of all our beliefs through the centuries. Without the physical resurrection of Christ, we're just another tax free Sunday morning get together. I'll tell you why I believe Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead.

It's a temptation to say, "Well, if you don't believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus you might as well throw out the New Testament." That's a little harsh. But, just for the sake of argument, back up a little and ask yourself this: Do I believe in the physical death of Jesus Christ? Did he really die? Did His heart actually stop? Was the body that was taken down from the cross on that day at Golgotha really lifeless?

There have been countless studies done by people with all kinds of letters following their names about what happens to the body when it is crucified. It isn't pretty. Someone went to the trouble of making a film titled "How Jesus Died: the final 18 hours." (Trinity Pictures, 1994) For those of you with intestinal fortitude it contains enough medical and forensic material plus historical facts to do great harm to your skepticism. For those of you who have been off the planet for the last four or five years, Mel Gibson also spent a lot of time and effort on a movie called "The Passion of the Christ." (2004) Matthew Chapter 27 describes in more detail than many people can stomach exactly what went on the day Jesus was crucified. As do Mark, Chapter 15, Luke 23 and John 19.

I will not name names, nor will I quote any one specific declaration or belief here. I will simply state that there are those within our circle, the circle of people loosely referred to as Book of Mormon believers, or, more accurately, those who claim "their" church was started by Joseph Smith, Jr. who do not believe Jesus physically rose from the dead. Of course many of those same people are in the process of throwing out the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, but that's another matter for another time.

Going back to Matthew, we meet Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man, who was a follower of Jesus, and who possessed a new tomb, which he had probably made for himself. Since Jesus had no worldly possessions it was appropriate that he should be laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. Since Pilate probably needed to assuage some of his guilt over authorizing the crucifixion, it is also appropriate that he would release the body of Jesus to this Joseph.

So we have a very simple funeral, attended by a few poor women and one rich man. Is it presumptuous to assume there was a dead body involved? Or that this body was the body of Jesus? I can't fathom a wealthy man like Joseph of Arimathea not being able to identify the body of the man he had probably been following and watching every day as Jesus taught and preached and prayed. Nor can I see the women crying rivers of tears at the foot of the cross of any man except Jesus, who forgave their sins and accepted them just as they were. Nor can I imagine Pilate ordering the sealing of the "great" stone at the entrance of the tomb and posting guards to prevent would-be robbers for anyone but Jesus.

Now let us go to the dawn after the sabbath. Same women, same tomb. Same "great" stone. But nothing is as it was when they left. The stone has been moved. There are two white-clothed beings sitting on the stone and these beings aren't guards; the guards are face down on the ground. What do you suppose happened to the guards, once they came to their senses, saw that the stone was moved, saw the empty tomb, and saw the two angels standing there? I think if I had been a guard at the tomb of Jesus, and had experienced all that, I would have definitely sought a career change. But the women, after their initial shock and fright, are the very first to know about the physical resurrection. There is no doubt in their minds. No one crept in and stole the body of their Lord. Their Lord has risen from the dead. There is no body in the wrappings which Joseph had so lovingly wrapped Jesus in. There are only empty remnants of cloth lying within the tomb.

It's a temptation to not be too hard on those who question the physical resurrection of Christ. After all, one of His disciples questioned it, saying, "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe." John 20:25 But notice that, after eight days, Thomas gets the opportunity to do just that. But he doesn't find it necessary to actually touch the nail prints. Just seeing his risen Savior was sufficient for Thomas to cry out, "My Lord and my God." John 20:28 I somehow don't think Jesus would have given Thomas the chance to actually touch Him if He didn't have a physically resurrected body to touch. Nor do I think Jesus would have dined with his disciples if He didn't have a physically resurrected body to feed. John 21

Lastly I am going to go to the Presbyterians for a statement that I have been searching for but have been unsuccessful in actually formulating. The writer if this article poses the question: Why would God simply cast off the body of Christ to decay? Would not this defeat the whole purpose of the suffering and death of our Lord? He died for our sins that we, too, may be resurrected and one day—in our flesh— shall we see God. Job 25:25-27

With no apology to the the Presbyterians, I'll refer to Genesis Chapter 7 in the Inspired Version. God is a God of the physical as well as the spiritual. Enoch and Zion did not just become fairy dust. God took them up into Heaven. Jesus did not leave the tomb as a wraith, an ethereal being floating about zapping believers with a magic wand. His physical body rose from the dead, as shall ours someday. I know that my Redeemer lives.

But there is a resurrection; Therefore, the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. Mosiah 8:81

In the Eternal love of our risen Savior


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