March 27, 2005
Christ is risen - He is risen indeed!
This is the greeting used at various times in services for the next forty days, it is one most Christians share at all times to remind ourselves that this is what Christianity is really all about. It is the essence of the Gospels. Christ has died and risen from the grave - in what form we can only surmise, except that he ate and walked with his disciples for forty days afterwards. The Da Vinci Code notwithstanding, this is the very evident truth of the Gospel.
To answer the charge of the Da Vinci Code that the man on the cross survived and lived to old age, I will say this. The evidence is against this theory. In fact, no court of law would reject the evidence of the story as told in the gospels. Why? Because the way a crucified person died was by drowning in their own body fluids! That is why the legs on the two men crucified with Christ were broken - so that they could no longer ease their lungs and clear them by supporting themselves and easing the muscles of the chest so that they could breathe properly for a few minutes. No man could survive the penetration of the chest cavity by the spear of the Centurion either. The discharge from the wound tells any medical person that the victim, if he wasn't already dead, was so close to death that this would have killed him.
The fluid which poured - note it does not say flowed or pulsed even in the original Aramaic or Greek - is described as blood and water mingled. This is pleural fluid from the chest cavity mixed with blood from the wound and the fact that it was so visible tells anyone with a little medical knowledge that the victim was no longer able to breathe properly and that, by the fact it was visibly present, no major supply of blood was present either! In short - he had no pulse. Try standing with your arms tied above your head for three hours sometime if you want to find out what it was like. But do have a medically trained person ready to cut you down and revive you. The Romans adopted this method of execution from the Persians - and refined it. No one survived this, and it can be and has been demonstrated medically.
The point about Easter is the empty tomb. He was taken and laid in the newly built tomb belonging to Joseph of Aramathea, probably intended as a "family" tomb as these structures usually were. The tomb was temporarily sealed and a guard placed on it because there was no time to lay out the body properly or perform the rituals required for proper burial. Two more things leap out from the rest of that story. The tomb was opened from the inside, not from without, and secondly, the clothes used to wrap the body remained in place where the body had been - as if, according to some sources, the body had simply been extracted from their embrace. Only the clothe covering the face was in a different place.
Had grave robbers come to steal the body, or even if his disciples had come to take it away, they would hardly have taken time out to unwrap it and leave the clothes so tidily! If they had come to steal it they would first have had to drive off the guards and then work fast before the guards came back with re-inforcements. They simply would not have unwrapped it there; it would have been a rush in, snatch, and run for it job.
That leaves us with the only real alternative, that He got up and walked out Himself, leaving the grave clothes where they were. This is why I say to you that we cannot be sure what form he took when He left that tomb. We only know that His disciples and His nearest and dearest friends seem inexplicably to have failed to recognise Him even though He was in human form. He seems to to have been transformed in some way, an indefinable change which leaves His disciples afraid and in awe - and these were people who had known Him very well indeed.
So we are left with the fact that Christ did rise from the tomb. He did walk among His people, and He did ascend into a new existence - one He has promised that we will enjoy as well. Only our own lack of faith, our own ignorance and lack of understanding can cut us off from following Him.
Christ is risen - He is risen indeed!
In Him we hope for a new life and a rebirth in the spirit when we can be reunited in God! That is the Easter message, that is the Christian faith.
A happy and blessed Eastertide to you all.
Posted by The Gray Monk at March 27, 2005 08:27 AM