Sunday, November 16, 2014

The resurrection, the cover-up, and the behavior of dead bodies

John 20:2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Matthew 27:62-66 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Matthew 28:11-15 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

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Mary's reaction is the natural reaction the typical person would experience if they came to the tomb and the dead man was missing. It is a simple and logical deduction of the human mind based on the common facts about life.

If Jesus is gone, then the first question in everyone's mind is "who took him" and "where did they put him?" A dead man has joined the category of inanimate objects; therefore the question on NO ONE'S mind would be "where did he go," or "what did he do with himself?" It would be like a woman going to a certain drawer where she keeps some diamond jewelry. She opens the drawer and it's not there. What does she say to herself? "Why is my jewelry missing? Someone must have taken it."

But notice how Satan works with these natural human reactions in order to blind people to the reality of the resurrection. He must dance on an extremely fine line of deception, gambling with improbable assumptions, taking the risk that people will fail to observe the preposterous element in the story they are swallowing. It is fascinating to observe how cleverly he conceals the big fat red X in his story, minimizes it, and cloaks it in a web of deception--only to turn around and tell the exact opposite story just hours later, without people seeming to notice anything amiss. At every level, he has to use lies to make his story work, but because the lies are woven in so softly, and because the rest of the logic seems rock-solid, people swallow the whole story.

While Jesus is still dead, the enemy starts his damage control (which, as an aside, implies to my mind that he didn't know at this point that Jesus would actually rise from the dead, since he had to later backpedal on this whole situation and literally turn his lies in the opposite direction). In essence, he whispers to the Pharisees, "If the disciples steal the body, everyone will believe that Jesus has risen from the dead."

No they won't. They will wonder, like anyone else would, who stole the body and where they put it, and an investigation will be conducted, and the facts will come to light, and it will put an end to any more rumors of a resurrection. The disciples themselves came immediately to this conclusion when they found him missing. They were not superstitious, irrational thinkers.

But the enemy is bent on preventing the disciples from stealing the body, so he gets the Pharisees to act on an assumption that is actually counter-intuitive, an assumption that is so well-hidden that it gets eclipsed in the urgency of the danger that the "last error could be worse than the first." All the enemy actually says is that the disciples could "say unto the people, He is risen from the dead." The assumption is, "...and everyone will believe it," but the enemy doesn't even have to say this; it is the hearer's mind that fills in the assumption as if it was stated, and the officials jump into agreement with the necessary action without recognizing that they even made the assumption, much less that it was illogical and improbable. The logical, normal, reasonable reaction of people would be "So? Where did you hide his body?" The enemy bases his whole action strategy on the assumption that masses of people everywhere will suddenly behave in a way that is counter-intuitive and against the normal grain of experience and logic, not in the light of any evidence, but just because they were told a story by a bunch of fishermen and tax collectors. Nevertheless, the Pharisees and Pilate act on this suggestion and guard the tomb. The enemy's gamble paid off, and the leaders fell in line with his manipulation.

Guards and a sealed tomb would likely have successfully kept out even a determined band of loyal body-stealing disciples (if they had come), but no guards could ever prevent the Majesty from on High from rising from the dead, passing through walls, and marching forth onto his now-conquered earth. All things were now under his feet. The enemy was vanquished, stripped of all authority, humiliated. All the enemy had left was deceit.

Jesus rises from the dead, and suddenly the enemy's damage control has to switch gears completely. After the resurrection, things suddenly go from it being the worst thing in the world for the disciples to get the body and tell people that Jesus rose from the dead to "Here's money; tell everyone in the world that the disciples stole the body and announced that Jesus rose from the dead." Now Satan leverages our natural and reasonable expectations about the behavior of dead bodies in order to cast doubt on the resurrection.

Curiously, no one seems to notice that suddenly the positioning message has switched 180 degrees overnight. The deceiver dances the deception dance with skill and alacrity, playing expertly upon people's distractiblity and forgetfulness. The body is missing? Why, someone must have taken it. This is the most common and plausible sounding thing in the world. It's already right there in everyone's minds.  Indeed, it would seem to the reasonable person that he was walking in the truth to believe the "stolen body" version of the story. It goes to show how subtle the enemy's deception is, and how even facts and experience and logic can combine in his hand to keep people in the dark about the truth.

What I find amusing, when all is said and done, is that the setting of the guard actually caused the circumstances to point to the resurrection more than to any other explanation, literally ruling out the likelihood that anyone could have stolen and hidden the body. What do people do when the body turns up missing? They investigate. The investigators would have questioned every interested party to distill the facts. And the facts known to them then would have been the same as the facts known to us now---that the disciples themselves didn't expect the resurrection or have the savvy to concoct a falsehood like stealing the body, that they couldn't have done it anyway because there was a guard, that the guards saw the earthquake, fell down as dead men, and woke up to find an empty tomb, and that they were paid off to report the body was stolen. The dead body never turned up--but the living person of Christ did, and was seen by at least 500 witnesses. The only story that points to is a genuine resurrection. Satan played right into God's hands, even in the midst of weaving his webs of deceit.

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