Good Morning Brothers…
First day of the new age; 0 AD
His thoughts were dulled by the long night standing guard. Standing guard with his fellow soldiers over a tomb sealed by a large rock. “Ridiculous”, he thought to himself for the umpteenth time, “Nobody is going to sneak in here, in the middle of the night and steal the dead. How did we get sold out to some crazy Jewish priests to guard a tomb?” It’s been a couple nights already and he is cold, tired, and wondering who he made mad to pull this kind of duty. Looking at the eastern sky, he realized his shift was almost over because dawn was approaching. “Almost done.”, he thought to himself as the images of breakfast and a warm bed entered into his mind. He looked across the mouth of the tomb at his fellow guards and could tell they were focused inwardly as well. A soldiers life is filled with long chilly nights and duty assignments which test a mans resolve. From the outside looking in, this assignment seemed easy, without threat. From the inside looking out, something felt odd. He grew tired of looking over his shoulder early in the shift. Nothing was ever there, but he couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. Something was amiss, but he couldn’t place a finger on it. The sooner he was away from here, the better.
“Whoa…Hey…is that an earthquake?”, he shouted. The other guards were screaming in terror and as he turned around he was blinded by an impossible light. Blinking his eyes against the brilliantly painful light he saw the stone slowly begin to roll away from the mouth of the tomb. Reaching for his sword, he saw the source of the light. A ghost clothed in white, with the appearance of lightening was rolling away the stone. Realizing his sword was useless against such a thing, his hand instinctively dropped the weapon just as his knees buckled and he fell to the ground. Face down, arms around his head, he tried to take stock of the situation. The shaking of the ground and the sound of the rolling stone stopped…all was quiet. He peeked up and realized that dawn had broke, and the brilliant light of the ghost was somewhat muted by the rays of the sun. Turning his head ever so slowly, he spied the apparition clothed in lightening sitting on top of the stone of the tomb. Immediately his head returned to its cradled position in his arms.
“Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
The sound of that voice, caused the hairs on the back of his neck to rise and chills to run up and down his spine. “Who is it talking to?”, he wondered. He stretched out his senses and became aware of two women. Lifting his head ever so slightly he caught sight of them. They were looking at the ghost above and behind him, their faces were fearful, but something else was there also, “Joy…is that joy on their faces?” The two women quietly, and cautiously, walked past him an entered the tomb. “What are they doing?”, he thought. He could hear muffled conversation from inside the tomb but couldn’t make out any of the words. The women quickly departed and he thought it was his time to die. His mind flashed back to the events of the last couple days and their oddity. He thought back to his duty assignments for crucifixions in the past. Sometimes he was assigned a bit of crowd control, but usually he was assigned guard duty in the prison while the criminals awaited their arraignments and sentencing. This set of criminals seemed different. The crowds seemed bigger and more violent. The tension in the voices of his commanding officers was usually reserved for their time on the front, not here in back water Jerusalem. Bits and pieces of overheard conversation washed over him, “Messiah…Jesus of Nazareth…the King of the Jews.” Caesar was his King, but he was fairly confident that all of the dead Kings of the Roman Empire were still dead. The words of the ghost, at that moment came back to him, “Jesus…risen from the dead…ahead of you to Galilee.”
It had been silent for quite awhile, his thoughts swirling, he heard his fellow guards stir. Looking over his arm he saw his buddies looking around with fearful glances. One of them lifted himself up off of the ground and scanned the vicinity. After a few moments, the guard on one knee nodded toward the one lying prone and said, “We’ll go into the city and tell those crazy priests that their fears came true. Whoever was in that tomb, he’s not their anymore.” The guards exchanged grunts of acknowledgement and some of them ran off.
Perspectives…perspectives are important. The resurrection of our Lord has impacted the world. All of world history is centered around that morning of dawn breaking 0 AD. The guards witnessed the resurrection firsthand, although the Scripture does not say Jesus stepped out of the tomb. Almost as if, the stone was rolled back, in order for the women and the disciples to see that He wasn’t there. We do not know if the guards encountered our risen Lord, but they were certainly witnesses to the physical evidence. The perspective of the empty tomb we hold, is not a universal perspective. On this day, let the guards in our life, bear witness to the physical evidence of the resurrection within us…that indeed...HE IS RISEN.