Summary: Peter and John looked the religious leaders in the eyes, which truth would actually be heard? Peter and John were determined to make sure it would be their truth that would stand the test of time.
INTRODUCTION: We had been out in the field for about a week moving from one position to another. This time we had stopped for a short rest. It was late in the morning, probably around 2am so I was standing around with several Marines when one of them asked, “Hey Chaps do you believe in martians?” I laughed and answered, “What kind of question is that?” The Marine responded, “Seriously do you believe in martians, you know like e.t.’S, you know life beyond earth?”
It is said that over one million people took to the streets in a panic when Orson Wells book War of the Worlds was read over the airways. People believed the martians had invaded earth and had destroyed most of the east coast.
In 2013 a survey of voters reported that 14% said they believed in bigfoot. About 17% believe that Nessie, the Loch Ness monster exists. 29% believes aliens exists, 21% of voters said a UFO crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 and the government continues to hide this fact and 7% say the landing on the moon was faked. I am not sure how many the figure goes somewhere between 1% and 10% of people believe the earth is flat.
Can I admit to you that I find these statistics a bit amusing. I chuckled with my Marines because I did not really take their question serious. It just seems a little weird to me that people, intelligent people have these kinds of thoughts. It just does not seem very rational or logical to me?
What do you think?
Would you would be willing to surrender your life on any one of these claims?
Body: The disciples have returned to Jerusalem, a place of open hostility towards anyone who believes in Jesus, a place of certain death for anyone who announces that Jesus is the promised Messiah and that Jesus is the Resurrected One and yet Peter and John have done just that and as expected they encounter immediate resistance from the religious leaders.
The religious leaders, Pilate and the disciples are stuck, they are stuck trying to figure out a way to prove their story. Each understands the significance, the importance of proving the other wrong. It is a matter of life and death. It is a matter of authority. If Jesus is resurrected then His claim to be the supreme authority must be established. If Jesus is not resurrected then Rome and the Jewish religious council can once again establish their authority as leaders.
So what must they do? They must attempt to discredit one another. Each side must attempt to prove the other side is false. The validity of Christianity rises and falls on this one claim - Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is the Resurrected One. Paul tells us that if Christ is not resurrected then your faith is pointless (1 Corinthians 15:17).
So the battle is set and we sit here this morning as the jury and it is our responsibility to make the decision of which party is telling the truth. The disciples claim Jesus is alive, but cannot produce a body, but they do produce witnesses who tell of events like Jesus feeding them fish or breaking bread with them.
The Romans and the Jewish religious leaders claim that the disciples stole the body in order to perpetuate this false teaching, they also cannot produce a body, but they are presenting the guards, elite guards who stood watch that night and these guards are prepared to tell you that they fell asleep and the body was stolen.
There is no question about the tomb being empty because both parties agree that the tomb is empty. The tomb being found empty is odd considering there was a seal and a rock placed upon the entrance. The disciples confess that they did not have first hand knowledge, but it was a group of women who reported the body missing. Likewise the religious leaders share they also did not have first hand knowledge but rather it was the soldiers at the tomb that told them they body was missing.
You decide that you would like to hear from the soldiers first. They tell you that they fell asleep and while they slept the body was removed from the tomb by the disciples. You are impressed that these soldiers would admit such a story considering the penalty for such negligence of duty was death. You wondered how could such elite soldiers fall asleep? How did they all fall asleep at the same time? It is also a curious thing that while they were asleep they also knew that it was these disciples who stole the body - how if they were asleep? Did they not hear anything? There are a lot of unanswered questions but nonetheless there must be truth to this story because they no doubt have just signed their death certificates admitting here in public that they let their “prisoner” escape.