Once there was a certain Man in His early thirties who claimed that His death would be by assassination. It got more interesting. He went further to say that He would be raised from death. He had drawn quite a following, and the officials were concerned that their authority would be endangered as this Man was gaining ground. He had twelve of His closest, following Him and heeding to His word. He spoke with much authority that threatened the religious authorities. Most intriguingly, He claimed that God was His Father and that He and the Father were one. They couldn’t take it anymore. They arraigned and charged Him for blasphemy.
Just like He had said, no deceit or sin was found in Him. This man hadn’t done any wrong. He was truly God as He was truly Man. Nevertheless, they still killed Him on that Friday.
Now, this was the moment of truth; if this Man rose, all that He had said would become authentic. The authorities were in a fix because if this Man rose, it’d be either they hadn’t killed Him, and ‘justice’ wasn’t served, or He indeed was all He claimed to be.
After His death, His followers, who were now referred to as disciples, were distraught and even began going back to their original jobs, almost forgetting what they had heard from this Man. After all, He was buried, His tomb sealed with a huge rock and guards assigned to safeguard the dead body.
Come Sunday, word went out and the disciples heard that their Lord was alive and that the tomb was empty. Wait, what? Alive? Empty? They fled to the scene of the supernatural occurrence and it was certainly empty. Matthew, one of the disciples, records what ensued when the guards realized the dead body they were guarding was missing.
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. (28:11-15)
To a skeptic, a missing body doesn’t necessarily mean resurrection. The religious folks capitalized on that and gave the soldiers something to chew on as they lied. If rather since this Jesus did rise from the dead, then these soldiers (in greed for material gain) and the chief priests and elders (in a desire to protect their religiosity) became accomplices in a soul damning conspiracy theory.
The truth is that this Jesus, fully Man and fully God, came and lived a perfect and sinless life, yet was killed as a sinner. Why? Rather, for who? The very word He spoke and fulfilled also says that no man is right with Him. We are condemned and headed to death and destruction! That’s a big problem. We have gone astray and sin reigns in us. The first man to walk on this earth sinned and all born after him are born in sin. Therefore, Jesus had to be very Man to present man to God and very God to present God to man. Our redemption is tied to the confession that we are sinners and we need Him to save us. Then turning from sin and looking to Him, the resurrected Savior who took our sin and gave us His righteousness. If He hadn’t resurrected, there would be no hope for any man!
He is alive and now reigns over sin and death. His resurrection anchors our eternal life. Therefore, what the soldiers claimed – in the effect of bribery and corruption – was a mass spiritual and eternal genocide. This lie that advances to this day is commonly called the stolen body hypothesis, and it has sadly hindered many from eternal life.
This is a classic case of gaining the whole world (or some coins) and losing your soul. The point hits closer home where Kenya is ranked 143 out of 180 of most corrupt countries, sampled by Transparency International (TI) this year.
A bribe is what we are paid in place of truth, whether at a high level to sabotage the country’s economy or a low level like a fifty shillings given to avoid a traffic cop. It means that there is a lie we want to propagate and we are willing to spread it in our greed and at our convenience. It may not be to our ‘Savior’s resurrection’ magnitude but may say much of our resurrection to the newness of life.
Corruption isn’t the biggest sin in our land. That would be unbelief, well-proven by bribery and corruption. It is the unbelief in God’s goodness and kindness to sustain us and keep us that makes us pay to lie when the truth may be dangerous. We are well cultured as practical, religious, atheists. We live as though there is no God and in disregard of His commands, promises, and goodness.
If the soldiers, who would have been the first witnesses to the resurrection, decided to go against their greed and the religious authorities’ word and spoke the truth, believing that the Son of God died for them, they would have been saved from everlasting destruction, and so can we! He rose!