During this season of Passover and the Resurrection, retired Pastor Edgar Wheeler (age 93 in Westerly, Rhode Island) shares this meditation with us.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:5)
From the criminal element of society has come the saying: “Dead men tell no tales.”
This philosophy has been practiced many times—and sometimes it works. When a witness to certain facts and events is seen as a threat, it is a sure thing that he will not have anything to say if he dies an unnatural and premature death. So long as there are no other informants, that method works.
This plan sounded like a good idea to the enemies of Jesus—the proud and deceitful religious leaders. Jesus preached and lived out a Gospel of mercy and freedom that was a threat to these people. He could not be silenced, and people were drawn to Him. So their plan was to find occasion to crucify Him and make certain that He stayed dead; no rumors that He was still around to talk.
The plot failed. In fact, this plot played into the hands of God. How that happened is told by Matthew is Matt. 27:57–28:19.
Celebrating Communion along with the Resurrection is especially significant. By instituting it on Passover, Jesus demonstrated how His death was to be the means of our salvation.
The disciples had been reminded that the crucifixion of Jesus would be no mere accident. It was in the plan of God and by the choice of Jesus. “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I have from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)
After the resurrection, Peter preached to the Jews: “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22-24)
The plot to be rid of Jesus by killing Him failed because Jesus rose from death and His power was unleashed to spread over the whole earth. It played into the hands of God because it gave Him the opportunity to verify His love and grace. You see, the thought that the all-powerful, holy God could at the same time be merciful and forgiving to sinners was beyond the grasp of the human mind. Just to say it would not remove their doubts. But in allowing men to do their worst, despising the Savior and putting Him to death, God was able by His plan to show just how far He would go to forgive all who would repent and turn to Him. As he died, Jesus prayed for all to hear: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
It is the word of each of us today—affirmed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ—that forgiveness is not an empty promise. There is no limit to the greatness of your sin. You are invited to trust in Jesus Christ, receive forgiveness and the power of a new life by His Holy Spirit. We celebrate that truth today.