I read that someone once asked the great librettist (and wit!) William S. Gilbert, ‘Is Beethoven still composing?’ Gilbert replied, ‘No, decomposing.’ Death and ‘’decay’’ are the normal human experience. We die, and in the grave our bodies decompose. From dust we come, and to dust we return. It is sobering, and it is humbling, but it is true. It’s something we all have to face, whether we like to or not. ‘Change and decay in all around I see…’ But in the case of Jesus, although death was in His experience, decay wasn’t. A dead body would decay swiftly in that hot climate, but Jesus’ body suffered no decomposition. Furthermore, this state of affairs was predicted in Psalm 16, according to Peter. David, great king that he was, still died, and his body decayed. This was a verifiable fact. Everybody listening to him knew it. So David was not speaking about himself in that psalm. No, he was a prophet and saw, looking through the long telescope of time, the resurrection of Jesus on the far horizon. Peter had insight into David’s foresight.
It is now true for everyone who puts their trust in Jesus that they will not be ‘abandoned’ to the grave. Yes, they will still go to the grave – temporarily. Their bodies will decay. But they will not stay there rotting forever. Resurrection day is coming (John 5:28, 29). ‘The sky, not the grave, is our goal’. The grave is a waiting room, not the final destination.
It is sometimes argued that the resurrection idea gained ground because the body of Jesus had been removed, or stolen (it amounts to the same difference). But think about this, Peter was preaching this message not very far from where Jesus had been laid in the tomb. All some enemy of the disciples had to do was to parade His dead body through the streets of Jerusalem. Someone noted that they would be able to ‘smother Christianity in its cradle.’ But the big fisherman could speak ‘’confidently’’ about the resurrection as he went angling for men (29). He had seen the empty tomb; he had met, spoken with the living Christ. He had been personally commissioned by Him. He was convinced that no compelling evidence would be brought forward to contradict him (see 1:3).
Somebody once said something like this, and I’ve thought about these words often in recent days: ‘If the coming of Jesus has left a hole in history the size and shape of the resurrection, with what does the secular historian propose to fill it?’
PRAYER: I am so thankful Lord Jesus that you live!