“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them…said…”Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, . . . The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised gain.” Then they remembered his words.” Luke 24:5-8
The Easter Bunny is coming, Easter eggs to be hunted, Peeps to eat, chocolate bunny’s and new Easter outfits, but the day is about an interesting “crime scene”. What happened here? A crime? A fraud? Truth or fiction?
As police officers we are trained to respond to a scene and conduct an investigation to determine the truth of what happened. In this case, what we believe about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ be presented as an investigation and then you, the reader, can make your own decision about what happened.
It is known fact that a man named Jesus was crucified and died. This was witnessed by many, including the police (Centurians) who were there. He died. His body was taken to a tomb where the body was “prepared” by Jewish custom. Strips of linen was wrapped around the body and interwoven with some 75 pounds of spices. Then, according to our first witness, Mark, the tomb was sealed with a huge stone that would take 20 men to move, estimated by some as weight 11/2 – 2 tons. It was then sealed by the Roman seal.
Roman guards were then placed to guard the tomb during the night.
The next morning, as our next witnesses, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, arrives to find the tomb empty. This large circular stone was rolled away (and an angel sat upon it. To do this, the stone would have to have been flat on the ground).
Matthew says there was a shaking of the ground (an earthquake) and the soldiers guarding the tomb were terrified (“they shook”) and fainted (became as dead men).
As Mary Magdalene stood alone crying outside the tomb, Jesus appeared to her.
Upon learning of the empty tomb, our next witnesses, Peter and Simon Peter arrives, finding the empty tomb. They also saw, as did the woman, that the burial strips of linen were undisturbed and still there. How could this be?
Returning now to the guards, they ran and told the Chief priests what happened. The chief priests and the elders meet and devised this plan: give the guards a lot of money and tell them to say: his disciples came in the night and stole the body while we slept.
Fact: If the guards were asleep that would be an offense punishable by death. If they were sleeping, how did they know it was the disciples?
There has never been any proof that any of his enemies, or disciples, were at the tomb during the night. If we assume enemies stole the body, why would they not produce it to prove death? And if the disciples remove it, why would they be grieving at their loss and all meet horrible deaths and torture, without making such an admission.
But, our list of witnesses grows larger, for after appearing to Mary Magdalene, He appeared to the two disciples walking on the road; appears another three times to the disciples; to eleven at the table; ate with the disciples; and during 40 days after the empty tomb He appeared to over 500 people.
So, there it is! We’ve interviewed the witnesses and observed the scene. What is your conclusion?
Easter is NOT about the crucifixion, or about Jesus’ death, it IS about His resurrection and that He is no longer on the cross or in the grave, but He with the Father, in heaven, for us.
The greatest miracle of all is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man and that He was crucified. The miracle? That man, Jesus, had the greatest effect on this entire world than anyone who ever lived and the only possible explanation is that He is who He said He was!
Happy Resurrection Day!
Detective Gene Hall retired in 1997 after 30 years of service. Gene has been a police instructor since 1973. He is a Coordinator with the Criminal Justice Institute (Police Academy), Palm Beach State College. Five years ago he was led to start a ministry for LEOs. He speaks to Christian groups about outreach to police officers and their families. He has also spoken to Florida Men of Integrity/Iron Sharpens Iron conferences and representing the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers in South Florida. He is the Florida State Director for the American Police Chaplains Association amd affiliated with the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board. In 2013 he became the first volunteer chaplain with the Palm Springs (FL) Police Department. Contact him at: [email protected] or thebibleandtheshield.com.