So I advise you to stay away from these men. Leave them alone. If what they are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God. The council members agreed with what he said, (Acts 5:38-39 CEV)
When Jesus was buried in the grave of Joseph the Arimathean, his grave was sealed with Roman seals, and was guarded by Roman soldiers. The Pharisees and the whole of Roman Empire had the opportunity to have ended Christianity at its infant stages forever. All they could have done was to make sure Jesus stayed dead, such that if anyone wanted to claim that he is alive, there would not have been any need for much argument; they could just go to the tomb and show him the decaying body of Jesus, and that would have ended all the ridiculous claims of Christianity forever.
Jesus had grown in power since his 3 years or so of ministry. He claimed to have been born of the Holy Spirit (with no help of any man), a claim that they did not have much grounds to verify. But in the coming days, the high point of Christianity was not going to be His Virgin birth, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He had promised that if he was killed, he would rise again from the grave. Not only did he give the promise, he told the exact time that he would rise from the grave- within 3 days.
So, the job of the Roman guards was simple. They were not expected to guard the tomb of Jesus forever and ever. They were not even supposed to guard the tomb for 1 week. All they needed was to guard the tomb for 4 (four) straight days and the ‘myth’ of Jesus the Christ would have ended forever! Not only that; the tomb was sealed with Roman seal. That made invading the tomb and carting away the dead body of Jesus a double tragedy:
- To invade the tomb, they would have to pass through well-bred Roman military men. For a group of people who were not even a militia, or trained swordsmen, but were ordinary fishermen and tax collectors, that would never had crossed their minds.
- To invade the tomb, they would have to break the Roman seal- a crime which was punishable by death.
For these very reasons, it is very difficult to understand why the story of Jesus could not be stopped at its early stages. They had all the equipment, all the privileges, and all the power to stop the Christian faith from rising. For a religion that was not in any form or manner spread by violence in those early stages, and for a religion built on very ridiculous claims like the Virgin birth, the Incarnate Deity, the Resurrection, and all that, it would have been very easy to just stop it before it gained traction. There is only one explanation to the reason why all the forces arraigned against Christianity with its ridiculous claims and beliefs could not stop the growth of the Church: GOD WAS WITH THEM. All those stories, all those claims, were all truth. No one could find a ground even in those beginnings to stop the Christian faith.
Do you know that the first church started in Jerusalem, right in the city where Jesus died and was buried? The disciples did not go into a far city to go and spread ‘lies’ about one Jesus in a far country. They started their preaching right in Jerusalem. The soldiers had claimed that the disciples of Jesus came and stole his body while they slept. The question now is, why were the disciples not arrested and imprisoned for life? Why were they not tortured to reveal where they had buried Jesus again? For an empire that devised such wicked schemes like crucifixion, I do not think that torturing men and women to get information would be a difficult thing for them. But, right in Jerusalem, right where Jesus walked and preached, right were Jesus died and was buried, a story was spurn that he was risen! A story that no one ever challenged. All the times the disciples were arrested by the High Priests, it was merely to stop them from preaching the story of Jesus. It was merely to intimidate them into keeping quiet; but the disciples kept on preaching, despite all the tortures and persecutions. Why? Because they saw him after his resurrection! They did not just see his Ghost: they saw him. They touched him, they ate with him. Not in a far country, right inside Jerusalem.
I am laboring to present these facts because I sometimes have to laugh at men who think they have an argument against Christianity. You may have an argument against Christians and their behaviors, but you cannot have an argument against Christianity. You do not have access to enough information to disprove the claims of Christianity; you can only rely only hearsay. But, the very people who could have stopped Him, the only people who could have proved that his story was false, had nothing whatsoever to say against his resurrection. He arose! Even the soldiers that guarded his tomb saw him rise!
So, as they were persecuting the early apostles, Gamaliel, a great teacher and scribe, warned them about what they were doing. He cited examples of people who had risen in times past and claimed to be something, but they were later discovered to be frauds. They were killed and all their disciples were scattered. So, he threw down a gauntlet: If what they are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God.
This wisdom of his was accepted by the Pharisees and thus the apostles were flogged and released. However, sitting at his feet was a disciple of his who never bought into his wisdom, nor listened to his warnings. He felt it was his God-given assignment to keep persecuting the Church and to stop the Church of Jesus on its infant stages. This he carried on despite the advice of his mentor and teacher until one faithful day when he met Jesus of Nazareth face to face: a story we will share much later.
AND SO? Have you made a deliberate decision to follow Jesus? If No, what are you waiting for? Are their questions, doubts and confusions in your heart concerning the Christian story; you can post your questions in the comment section. I also encourage you to download and listen to this song titled SAY I DO by Mary Mckee. May God give you strength to be strong in your faith as a Christian and to endure till the end. Amen.