O God, for our redemption You gave Your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross and by His glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of the enemy. Grant that all our sin may be drowned through daily repentance and that day by day we may arise to live before You in righteousness and purity forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN
Read St. Matthew 28:11-15
It never fails, every year during Christmas and Easter, not to mention at various other points during the rest of the year, The History Channel, Discovery Channel and even the major networks, will come out with specials that attack Christianity. There will be specials about so called lost books of the Bible that allegedly disprove some major tenant of Christianity; or some bogus piece of evidence that shows something that happens in the Bible to be totally impossible.
The goal is to make believers doubt, to plant seeds of angst in the minds of even the most fervent Christians, so that one day they might deny the faith and chase after some other false god, or perhaps no god at all.
It is not always clear why they do this, (money?) but what is clear is that this is hardly a new idea.
For those using the Series A readings out of the Lectionary for Lutheran Service Book, and quite possibly even for those whose church’s do not, the Easter Sunday Gospel reading was St. Matthew 28:1-10, the account of the resurrection of Jesus.
What that reading leaves out however are the verses for this particular devotion. This is what you might call, the rest of the story. Jesus has risen and in an effort to save face and to continue to promote the Jewish religion, the chief priests and the elders come up with a lie to spread concerning the resurrection.
The guards know for a fact that Jesus body was not stolen and that He had risen, the chief priests and the elders believe the guards in that they do not have them executed, and so they ignore the facts and come up with their own story of what happened: the disciples came at night while the guards were sleeping and stole the body.
Is the story plausible? Sure.
Did it happen? Of course not, even the chief priests and elders know that it did not happen. But the story fits with the narrative that suits them, so they stick to it.
We may not believe the story the chief priests and elders come up with, but we now their way of thinking. In our minds, we never sin; because we always have some way to spin the story so it suits us best.
Did you steal? Yes, but only because I was hungry. Did you cheat? Yes, but only because I knew if I did not I would fail. Did you murder? Yes, but that person really deserved it. Did you disobey your parents? Yes, but only because they never let me get my way.
Have we sinned? Yes, but there is always a perfectly plausible reason to explain away our sins.
The truth is that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We know what His Word says, and like it or not, we have disobeyed that Word. Part of that disobeying His Word is to spin the story so it suits our interests, our wants, our needs best. Why? Because the truth would embarrass us, it would show us for what we really are: sinful beings.
Which is why we need Jesus to die and rise for us in the first place. God sent His one and only Son into the world to suffer and die for us so that the ending would in fact be the one that suited us best. We do not get some spin about how we tried our best but still came up short; rather we get Jesus, crucified and risen for our sake, so that we might receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
And that is no lie that can be spun to meet the needs of others. The evidence for the resurrection is overwhelming: We have four Gospel writers each giving their own accounts. We have over 2000 years of history of factual evidence that tells us it really happened. And we have the evidence that people are not willing to die for a lie, and the church has thousands upon thousands of men and women who have died proclaiming the truth of the Gospel that Christ is risen.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead cannot be spun any other way: Christ is risen, and as a result, you get the full and unbridled benefits that it offers to all who believe.