The Seven Signs of Easter – Part One
Easter this year is April 17th and as a teacher and preacher of God’s Word I am always thinking ahead as I write material to preach, teach, and post. And as a believer who is sharing his faith every opportunity I get I find myself having to “defend” the fact that I actually and truly believe that Jesus was raised bodily from the grave and is alive. So, I thought I would share the seven biblical reasons I believe in the resurrection of Jesus other than I encountered Him personally and in the flesh the night I was saved, November 9, 1976.
The real message of Easter is the empty tomb. As the angel said:
Matthew 28:5-10 NET “But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised, just as he said. Come and see the place where he was lying. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ʻHe has been raised from the dead. He is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there.ʼ Listen, I have told you!” So they left the tomb quickly, with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them, saying, “Greetings!” They came to him, held on to his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.”
The battle over the resurrection of Jesus Christ has always been fierce. The empty tomb, as an enduring symbol of the Resurrection, is the ultimate proof of Jesus’ claim to be God. So how do we know the Resurrection actually happened?
1> THE SOLDIERS. Jewish officials panicked because thousands were following Christ. They heard Jesus predict that He would rise on the third day, and so when His body was placed in a tomb, they had to make sure He was put away for good! So the chief priests and Pharisees gathered and asked Pilate (the Roman ruler) to “order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’” Pilate agreed, so they secured the tomb, in part by “setting a guard”
Matthew 27:63-66 NET ““Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ʻAfter three days I will rise again.ʼ So give orders to secure the tomb until the third day. Otherwise his disciples may come and steal his body and say to the people, ʻHe has been raised from the dead,ʼ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “Take a guard of soldiers. Go and make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the soldiers of the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.”
A Roman guard unit consisted of 4 to 16 men. Each soldier was trained to protect six feet of ground. Normally, four men were stationed immediately in front of the object they were to protect, while the other 12 slept in a semicircle in front of these four. Every four hours, a new unit of four was awakened, and those who had been keeping watch went to sleep. This routine went on around the clock. To steal what these guards were protecting, thieves would first have to walk over those who were asleep and then deal with the guards who were not.
Although the idea that the disciples stole the body of Jesus might explain the missing corpse, the idea is more absurd than any other theory put forth to explain away the Resurrection.
2> THE SEAL. Matthew records that the soldiers “went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone” (Matthew 27:66). The seal could be placed on the stone only in the presence of the Roman guards who were in charge. The procedure was designed to prevent anyone from tampering with the contents of the grave. After the guards inspected the tomb to be sure the body was where it should be they rolled the stone in place and a cord was stretched across the rock. This was fastened at either end with sealing clay. Then the clay packs were stamped with the official signet of the Roman governor. But on Resurrection morning the seal was broken because the stone had been removed from the opening of the tomb while the soldiers were still there guarding the sealed tomb.
Matthew 28:1-4 NET “Now after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Suddenly there was a severe earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were shaken and became like dead men because they were so afraid of him.”