Christ’s Resurrection and Conspiracy Theory of Idle Tale

While they were going, behold, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep” (Matthew 28:11-13). At the heart of the Christian belief, doctrines and theology is the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after He was crucified. Paul hit at the core of this statement when he wrote to the believers at Corinth that “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty … and if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sin ” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

In Luke 24, verse 5, the women came to beautify the body and grave of Jesus Christ with spice which they had prepared. They were asked by the angels, “why do you seek the living among the dead?” The three women and others who were asked this question included Mary Magdalene, Joana, and Mary the mother of James. Here the ‘dead’ are those in their tombs; the ‘living’ they have come to tend was Jesus Christ who unknown to them had been raised from death! Only the living preaches, speaks and witnesses. The stones used to cover graves and build sanctuaries do not. It is in this sense we are called the living stone.

The question the angels asked the women is still very relevant today. They were sceptical that Jesus Christ had risen. They had come to meet a corpse. But were taken aback and grieved that the corpse was ‘missing.’ But the angel told them they were in the place of the dead. The one they sought was already among the living. They should go and seek Him there. The eleven grieving disciples also felt that Jesus’ resurrection was nonsensical and an ‘idle tale.’ The angels said, “He is not here, but is RISEN!” the women were thus the first to preach the story of the risen Christ. And since this time, the Church has always proclaimed: He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!! This manifests and signifies the one – Christ Jesus – on whom the Christian faith is anchored.

This incidence, Paul argued, is at the heart of Christianity (1 Corinthians 15:13-14). He goes on to explicate its necessity and importance in 1 Corinthians 15:45-50. The first Adam had a natural body that was corruptible. The second Adam, Christ Jesus, had a body that is incorruptible. Christ came to undo that which occurred at the fall of man. As a consequence of this, Peter writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

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So in the resurrection, God has offered us a ‘lively hope and because of this lively hope, we are Christians with conviction. What is the Lord Jesus Christ to us? Who is Christ to us? Where should we seek Him? What meaning does His gospel give? A good number of us, by lifestyle and conviction, are still seeking Christ among the dead; but God forbid! We carry on as if Christ is neither alive nor living with us. This attitude, and misplaced belief in Christ’s being make the difference in our Christian life.  “I am ready to preach the gospel to you … for I not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes” (Romans 1:15-16). “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:13).

Now, this is how Luke writes about the resurrection story in the face of those who were its early witnesses. “And the words seems to them as idle tale and they believe them not” (Luke 24:11). Christians are followers of Christ simply because they hold on to the actual existential reality of Christ as raised from the dead. But the challenge is one of obedience on the part of believers. “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Perhaps, the significance of the resurrection will help us answer this question. Do we obey Him as one who is alive and living with us here and now? The women met a stone that was rolled off. But stones do not witness. It was the women and the disciples that witnessed. We are witnesses! How can we be Christ’s witnesses in a world being torn apart by wars, poverty, deprivation and corruption, more so in communities that are Christian dominated?

Archbishop Justin Wilby, in his 2015 sermon explicated that: “Cathedrals and churches make great statements, but without words. Witnesses are those people who know Christ; lay or ordained, old or young, or whatever irrelevant – all are equally witnesses. The resurrection happened, and it changes our view of the universe. Once we have seen the reality of the risen Jesus nothing else should be seen in the same way as before.” In his 2000 Easter sermon, Bishop Peter Adebiyi stated that “this [Easter] is the time that Nigerians need our [Christian] love most, just as Jesus offered to us. A great number of people have no homes; a lot have been displaced due to religious wars, tribal and ethnic problems. As Christians, let us look beyond our own needs. Let us look at other Nigerians and offer them the hope of the gospel. Let us offer them the love of Christ, let us extend to them our knowledge of the power of the resurrection. Let us bring Christ to them in a practical way.”

Have a blessed and happy Easter

Rev’d Dr Karo Ogbinaka, an Anglican priest of the Diocese of Lagos West. He lectures at the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos and a member of the Editorial Board of The Trumpet

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