The dramatic events that followed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ may be summarized by a statement made in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 27, verses 57-60,
“As evening approached, there came a man from Arimathea, named Joseph … he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance … and went away.”
End of the story … or so they thought.
For King Herod and Pilate, the Roman Governor, a troublesome, popular figure was dead; for Caiaphas, the High Priest, the One claiming to be Messiah, the One who challenged his authority, had finally been eliminated; for Joseph of Arimathea, he would be forced to live in shame for his inability to dissuade the Jewish power-brokers from sentencing Jesus to death; for the disciples, it was an unmitigated disaster. Their hopes for the promised Kingdom, their faith, which had been strengthened by their Messiah and Best Friend … all vanished with the crucifixion; for the women who followed Jesus, the One Man who had treated them with dignity and respect was no longer available; for the guards, charged with protecting Jesus’ tomb, it was a gravy assignment, the failure at which would doom them to death.
But not so fast, guys. You’re dealing with God here … and you are about to hear the rest of the story!
Again, from the Gospel of Matthew (28:5-6), “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week … the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen.’”
For the guards, their gravy assignment had just turned into a nightmare as the stone began to move; for Herod and Pilate, it was not the end but the beginning – of a disaster they could not imagine; for the temple hierarchy, an explosive new church would soon emerge … and in their heart of hearts, they would have to acknowledge they had crucified their Messiah, and that to their own damnation; for Joseph of Arimathea, it heralded a new opportunity to regain his self-respect and serve the One he had grown to love and admire; for the disciples, the resurrection promised new understanding, new hope, new direction, and a new mission to which they could dedicate their lives; and for the women? Unbelievably, “He’s back!” Happy days are here again!
But it was not for them alone! For me too, and I share with greatest thanksgiving the Apostle Peters’ note of triumph:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish … kept in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:3-4).
He is alive! Thank God Almighty, Jesus Christ has arisen from the dead!