By Robert Hurtgen
He is risen. All of Christianity hinges on those three words. The gospel accounts -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- are clear that even those who gave up everything to follow him were full of grief and fear when he was rushed to trial and executed. They grieved for Jesus, whom they loved.
They were full of fear because if the leaders of the Sanhedrin could so easily turn his popularity among the people against him, they could only imagine what they would do to them. So, in fear they sat in a room, doors locked, windows barred. They were full of despair, overwhelmed by grief and driven by fear.
A group of women returned to the tomb that Sunday morning. They had previously gone with Joseph of Arimathea on Friday, accompanying the body of Jesus shortly before Sabbath was to begin.
With Sabbath so soon to begin there was no time to make the right preparations. Joseph had managed to secure Jesus' body from Pilate, the Roman governor of the province, who was surprised that he was already dead.
Pilate agreed to the request. He released the body to Joseph, who then placed the corpse in a new tomb carved out of stone for his family's use. Perhaps even his own.
Few knew of Joseph's allegiance to Jesus. Joseph was also a member of the Sanhedrin, but was not present when the other members were called together. Perhaps he was out of town when the night trial occurred. Or perhaps he was conveniently forgotten about when the meeting was called. The available Sanhedrin cast a unanimous guilty verdict concerning Jesus. Unanimous, save for the one who did not agree with them and was conveniently not there.
Joseph, whose secret allegiance was now public, wrapped the body in clean, fine linen and placed it in the tomb. A large stone was set before the entrance. The small party left weary.
The same group that stood before Pilate demanding Jesus' death now insisted the tomb be made secure.
They had heard his claims that he would rise again. They believed a conspiracy could be created easily unless the tomb was secure.
Their request granted, they placed a seal on the tomb and stationed guards. Full of self-satisfaction they rested.
The first day of the week the earth shook, the stone moved and Jesus walked out of the tomb. Nothing would keep him in the grave. He had risen. In his death, he purchased our offense. In his resurrection, he secured our victory in this world and the one to come.
The Christian faith hinges on these three proposed words: He has risen.