Matthew 27:66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
Christianity is a fearless faith. No matter what constraints are placed upon it by government regulations or social pressure, Christianity cannot be contained in a one-size fits all t-shirt. It is as multi-faceted as a diamond and as varied as the different colors of a tapestry. It refuses to conform to the world and constantly challenges humanity. It is a risky business for all who embrace Christian beliefs, because it frequently challenges the believer, as well as those outside the faith.
When I read the Holy Week stories, I constantly see the futility of humanity trying to put an end to Jesus, as well as the attempted destruction of His message. In today’s passage (Matthew 27:57-66), for instance, the religious and military authorities try to control the situation by sealing the tomb and posting guards. They are attempting to effectively seal off the burial area to stop Christ’s followers from stealing the body, and falsely proclaiming that He rose from the dead. The authorities take every precaution to keep Jesus buried and His followers restrained. But it doesn't work – within a short time, the tomb will burst open and Christ will rise from the dead.
That’s what Christianity does and is still meant to do. In lands throughout the world, regimes and despots constantly try to eliminate the Church and Christians. In the short term, they have some success, but in the long term, Christianity prevails. Tyrants and dictators come and go, but Christ rises up again and again and again – and will do so until the very end of Time.
When people write off the church as being irrelevant, unnecessary, and on its deathbed, I remind myself that I've heard it all before – in the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, and the new millennium. In every case, the church has reformed, rebounded, and been restored. The naysayers and prophets of doom have come and gone, utterly forgotten, while the name of Christ continues to be lifted up, worshiped, and adored. Society may try to seal up the message and diminish Christ’s claims; governments may attempt to gag the Gospel and silence the followers of Christ, but eventually revival occurs, faith resurrects, and the Kingdom of God through Christ re-enters the mainstream even stronger than before. All it takes is time – and Time, as well as History, belong to the Eternal Christ.
So today, if you’re feeling down about your church, denomination, or faith then know this: when it comes to Death, we’re in the Resurrection business!
Questions for personal reflection
What makes me worry about my church and faith? How can I change my worries into prayers?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You turned the world upside down by defeating death and establishing Your Church across the world. For centuries, different leaders and civilizations have tried to destroy Your church and diminish Your influence. They have constantly failed and Your Church is now bigger and more widespread across the Earth than it ever has been. Thank You for continuing to enrich the world with Your presence, ministry, and mission. In Your Holy Name, we cheerfully and thankfully pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s attached image is one of John’s latest winter drawings called ‘Winter Tree.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: Tree.