How shall we explain the empty tomb?
Did Jesus simply faint on the cross but, in the coolness of the tomb revive and escape? If yes, could he really have had the strength to overcome the posted guard? Preposterous! But the tomb was empty.
Perhaps Jesus was never really buried! But Pilate and Jesus’ enemies knew he was buried and they wanted to make sure he stayed buried. That was the reason for the guard. But on Sunday, the tomb was empty.
Perhaps Jesus’ disciples stole the body! But how could such a poorly equipped lot overcome the contingent of Roman soldiers? Perhaps the soldiers were sleeping on duty.
Yeah. That’s it. Soldiers sleeping. And that’s the story Jesus’ opponents told, the story that persisted after Jesus’ resurrection. But it was a lie as thin as tissue paper. Had the soldiers slept, they would have been punished – perhaps killed. But they were not. Had the disciples stolen the body, breaking the official seal of Pilate, they would have been hunted down and executed. But they were not. How do we explain these anomalies?
Eventually the truth came out, and everyone in Jerusalem knew the story. The lie was created by Jesus’ enemies, Israel’s religious elite, and secured, like Jesus’ betrayal, with money. The soldiers had to be paid to lie, but Jesus’ disciples go out and spread the word – for no gain at all – simply because the story was true.
The great commission is the mission of every Christian, to not only be a follower of Jesus, but to make other followers of Jesus. The process involves teaching the story of Jesus, baptism in the name of Jesus, and obedience to the word of Jesus. It involves a changed life that spreads the change by teaching and example. Only those who make this mission their own can truly say God rules in their lives.