페이지 정보작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-12-29 23:04 조회1,424회 댓글0건
<John 20: 1-10>
As scientific and medical technology advances, more and more people are looking to human immortality. Cryogenic treatment has been garnering the attention of people interested in immortality. This method deep-freezes the corpse in extreme temperatures, which can reach –350 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, this method puts the body of a deceased person in a liquid nitrogen tank and preserves it until medical technology advances enough in the future to bring the body to life. Sometime in the future, when medicine can resuscitate the deceased, these frozen bodies will be thawed out.
Cryogenic treatment became a center of attention around July 5th of last year, when the legendary baseball player Ted Williams (1918-2002) died. Williams played for the Boston Redsox as their slugger, with a lifetime batting average of .344.
When Williams died, argument broke out amongst his children as to how to conduct his affairs and arrange his funeral. His eldest daughter argued that based on Williams’ 1996 will, his body should be cremated and the ashes be spread along the Florida coast. But his youngest son and another daughter brought up a pact that Williams made with his children in November of 2000, which states that the body of Williams must be frozen and preserved through cryogenics.
The son’s argument eventually won out, and Ted Williams’ body was moved to a cryogenics lab in Scottsdale, Arizona. So the body of legendary Ted Williams now hangs upside down in a 350-degree below zero liquid nitrogen tank with two other bodies. He is waiting for that day, when the medical science advances to a point where his body can be thawed out and brought back to life.
But preserving a human body for eternity is no cheap matter. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the cryogenics company in Arizona, charges a contract fee of $150 and a subsequent annual charge of $400 just for reserving a slot in the tank. Once the person dies and his or her body is moved to the lab, a fee of $120,000 is charged. Despite such a prohibitive cost, over 1,000 people around the world have contracts with cryogenic companies.
If technology advances to a point where all these frozen dead people can be brought back to life, it may not be a bad thing. But even though such people may be brought back to life, we must remember that this is not a true resurrection. These people will merely be resuscitated, not resurrected.
We often hear of stories about people who have had near-death or flash death experiences. Some people are resuscitated, either through CPR or electric shock, after they stop breathing. But this is not resurrection. They were resuscitated through emergency medical procedures that restored their breathing or heartbeat, and they will not live forever. Even though their life was restored, they will again die eventually.
But if we are resurrected, we will not age and we will live forever. According to 1 Corithians 15: 42-44, resurrection is a supernatural phenomenon with four characteristics that change us into new beings. “The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” It is a transformation. No longer will the body face certain death; rather, it will enjoy an everlasting life. The first fruit of such resurrection is our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Modern people are willing to accept the resuscitation of the body, but they do not readily accept resurrection. Modern people require physical proof and logical explanation to accept something as a fact. They recognize truth only through sight and touch by seeing with their own eyes and feeling with their own hands.
But the resurrection is indirectly passed onto us through the testimonies of those who appear in the Bible. There are only the testimonies and stories from those who witnessed the resurrection of Christ. So many people of today argue that because they cannot prove through logic or physical experience, and it is explainable only through indirect testimonies, they do not believe in the resurrection.
Then how can the resurrection of Jesus be explained? We can raise three possibilities.
First, it is the possibility of Jesus appearing before others as a live Man. In this instance, Jesus cannot have actually died on the Cross. Due to some mistake or error by the Roman soldiers, Jesus was mistaken for dead when He has only suffered serious injuries, and being considered dead, was taken down from the Cross. He was then taken to someone’s house, where He received treatment and subsequently recovered. After He had recovered, Jesus appeared before others.
But this is a mere conjecture. As we have looked into the crucifixion in detail through the Seven Words from the Cross, there is no doubt Jesus died on the Cross. The Four Gospels clearly state that Jesus died on the Cross, and His body buried after being taken down.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all state that an Arimathean man named Joseph buried and conducted the funeral rituals for Christ (Matthew 27: 57-60, Mark 15: 43-46, Luke 23: 50-53, John 19: 38-40). John goes on the reveal that Nicodemus, in order to retrieve the body of Christ, brought some 100 pounds of incense and myrrh.
Bible is not the only source that testifies the death of Jesus. Many noted historians, such as Tacitus, testify that the death of Jesus is a historical true event. The story of Jesus not dying on the Cross, but being pulled down while still alive, and subsequently returning as if He had been resurrected is an implausible story.
Second, there is the possibility that even though Jesus had actually died on the Cross, His disciples had hallucinated or had seen some mirage that Jesus had been resurrected, or that the disciples hid the body of Jesus and falsely spread the rumor of His resurrection.
The Jewish authorities who had sentenced Jesus to crucifixion often raised this possibility. But the suggestion that the disciples had seen some hallucination lacks plausibility. The twelve disciples of Jesus, as well as most of His followers, betrayed Him and either hid or scattered to the four winds even before He was crucified. They feared that some of the repercussion would seek them out as well, and as a result ran for their lives.
Had they truly believed Jesus when He said He would be resurrected in three days, they would not have betrayed Him and as such and ran away. According to verse 9 of today’s scripture, even His most beloved disciples, such as Peter and John, did not truly understand Jesus when He said that He would be resurrected among the dead.
After the crucifixion, the disciples felt a deep sense of defeat and could not understand nor believe that Jesus would be resurrected. It is highly unlikely that these disciples would even have dreamed of resurrection. They would not have seen some hallucination and mistaken it for Jesus.
Furthermore, Paul testifies in 1 Corinthians 15: 5-6 that the resurrected Jesus first appeared among the twelve disciples, then appeared before over 500 other disciples simultaneously. It is unlikely that several hundred people would have hallucinated over seeing the same thing. Therefore, it is impossible to accept the argument that disciples saw a mirage.
The other possibility is that the disciples stole the body of Jesus and spread the rumors of His resurrection. This possibility also lacks credible support. In the entrance of the tomb of Jesus, there was a groove. When a stone is set in this groove, the entrance to the tomb is completely sealed off. In order to move such a large stone, several strong men are required.
According to Matthew 27: 66, Governor-general Pilate dispatched several guards to stand guard at the tomb of Jesus. It is not certain whether these soldiers were Roman soldiers or Jewish soldiers, but looking at the situation of the moment, it is more likely that these guards were Roman soldiers.
These soldiers could not have shirked from the duty of guarding the tomb. Because the rumors of resurrected started to run rampant, they could have faced serious punishment, even death, should the body of Jesus be looted from the grave. They would have guarded this site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with eyes wide open. Therefore, it is difficult to believe that someone could have stolen the body of Jesus under such conditions and surveillance.
If the two possibilities raised thus far lack credibility, than we must look at the third possibility. The third possibility is that Jesus actually died on the Cross, was resurrected, and appeared before His disciples.
The Bible proves this third possibility. This possibility is the most credible, especially when we look at the changes in the disciples themselves. The first two possibilities assume that Jesus’ resurrection was a false lie. But Peter and countless number of other disciples martyred themselves after witnessing the resurrected Jesus. They died in the most gruesome manner imaginable for their belief in Jesus.
Who in this world would give up his life for some lie? Some people give their lives for truth, but no one will give their life for false lies. Those disciples that ran with fear prior to the crucifixion of Jesus were emboldened to the point of risking their lives after witnessing the resurrection. This is probably because they experienced the resurrection. They had some experience that made them immune to persecution and martyrdom. Based on this complete reversal of change in each of the disciples, we can find the veracity of the resurrection.
So far, we have talked about how we will explain the resurrection. But on this Easter day, no matter how much I talk about the veracity of the resurrection, it will probably have little impact on all of you. This is because the mystery of the resurrection cannot be solved through some scientific proof or logical proof. Then with what attitude should we receive the truth of resurrection?
In order to answer this question, let’s go back to our scripture of the day.
According to Mark 16: 9 and chapter 20 of John, the first person to witness the resurrected Jesus is Mary Magdelene. Who was Mary Magdelene? According to Luke 8: 2, she was a woman once possessed by seven demons before being cured. She had a dark past. But Mary Magdelene changed because of Jesus, and became one of His devout disciples. Among the female disciples of Jesus, the fact that Magdelene Mary’s name is always mentioned first shows that she was the leader of their group.
Afterwards, Magdelene Mary loved Jesus more so than anyone else who loved Him that she kept by His side to the end (Matthew 27: 55-56; Mark 15: 40-41; Luke 23: 55-56). Furthermore, she was at the site of Jesus’ funeral, when His body was taken to the cave that would serve as His temporary tomb (Matthew 27: 61; Mark 15: 47; Luke 23: 55-56).
Crucifixion, during those days, was such a serious punishment that even neither family nor friends of those sentenced could easily approach them. The body of those crucified was not buried; rather, it was discarded out in the field for the vultures and wild animals to feast on. The fact that Mary Magdelene stood by the side of Jesus on top of Golgotha, in such a harsh, macabre environment, showed that she followed him with her life hanging in the balance.
The important thing is that Mary Magdelene is the first one to witness the resurrected Jesus (Matthew 28: 1-11; Mark 16: 9; Luke 24: 1-12; John 20: 11-18).
Then why did Jesus, after resurrection, first appear before Mary Magdelene? In the male-dominated society of those days, women were not even considered human. How could a woman, one with a dark past to boot, be the first one that saw Jesus? It was because of her love for Jesus.
This love is well illustrated through her visit to Jesus’ tomb. Visiting a tomb on the Sabbath was one of the cardinal sins of the laws under the Old Testament. Moreover, Jewish custom strictly dictated that tombs were not to be visited during the first three days following the death of the deceased. Jews believed that the soul of the dead remained near the tomb for three days after death. They believed that after three days, when the body begins decomposing, the soul would no longer recognize its former body and depart the tomb. That is why they allowed visitation of the tomb three days after the burial.
Regardless, according to verse 1 of today’s scripture, Mary Magdelene, early in the morning of the day after the burial, on Sabbath, visits the tomb of Jesus, when it was still dark. Scholars believe that she visited the tomb sometime between 3 and 6 o’clock in the morning. How desperate would she have been regarding Jesus that she would visit Him at the crack of dawn after Sabbath?
But when she arrived at the tomb, the stone, which should have been covering the entrance to the tomb, had been moved. Greatly startled, she ran to Peter and John, the disciples that Jesus loved the most, and told them of this news.
The two disciples ran to the tomb. Since John was much younger than Peter, John arrived at the tomb first. But John, stooping down and seeing the linen cloth on the floor, did not enter the tomb. Peter, who followed John, entered the tomb and verified that the body of Christ had disappeared.
Take a look at verse 7. “And the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” What does this mean? The handkerchief that had covered the head of Jesus was lying by itself, without the hint of anyone touching or moving it. In another words, the handkerchief laid in its place, without having been touched or moved, as if the body of Jesus had evaporated underneath it.
But according to verse 10, the two disciples, even after verifying that the tomb was empty, returned home. The chief disciple Peter, and John, whom Jesus had cared so much for, returned home after seeing the empty tomb of Jesus without much of any emotion.
But Mary was different. Even after the two disciples returned home, she stood outside of the grave and continued to cry. While crying, she bent down several times to look into the tomb. How frightening it must have been to stand in front of an empty tomb! 1 John 4: 18 states, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,” and her love for Jesus had emboldened her. That is why she even had a conversation with two angels who wore white garments.
Mary Magdelene, nonetheless, received the glory of being the first one to witness the resurrection of Jesus. Neither the chief disciple Paul, nor the most endeared John, received this honor, but a fragile woman with a dark past received this great honor of seeing Jesus first.
The important thing to remember through this is that Mary Magdelene was able to see Jesus before anyone else because of the love in her heart for Jesus. The love of Jesus had opened her eyes for her. What does the fact that Mary, oblivious of the stares of people around her, went at the crack of dawn on Sabbath to visit the tomb of Jesus, against all customs and laws, tell us? What does the fact that upon seeing the stone moved from the mouth of the tomb, she ran to tell Peter and John tell us? What does the fact that even after the two beloved disciples returned home, Mary stays at the tomb and cries for Jesus tell us? Do these actions not tell us that she harbored a deep love of Jesus in her heart?
It is true. The truth of resurrection cannot be understood through any scientific or logical explanations. No matter what experience or logic may say otherwise, resurrection does not matter without the love of Jesus in our hearts. Without such love, we would be reduced to scoff, “Jesus was resurrected? What does that have to do with me?”
As I reiterate, the mystery of the resurrection cannot be solved through scientific means. The truth of the resurrection cannot be discovered through logical reasoning. Only when we meet Jesus, and experience His love and grace, and love Him from with all our heart and will, will its mystery become clear to us.
The resurrection is something that cannot be understood through touch and feel, or even sight. It is a mystery that can only be solved through obedience, love, and faith. Before we try to move the stone door to the tomb of Jesus, we must first move the boulders of mistrust, disobedience, and arrogance from our own hearts. Only then will we meet the resurrected Jesus.
A young painter brought a portrait of Jesus that he drew to Gustave Dore, a famous 19th century painter. The young painter wanted his painting evaluated. After looking at the picture for a long time, Dore did not say a word. Then he uttered one phrase. “You do not love Jesus. If you had love in your heart for him, then you would have painted a much better portrait.”
It is true. On this Easter morning, without the love of Jesus in our hearts, we will have a very difficult time believing in His resurrection. Only the love of our Lord will enable us to truly see Him. Amen.
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