Ambiguous loss ∙
On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb while it was still dark and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” – John 20:1-2
9 So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples – and everyone else – what had happened.
10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened.
11 But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it.
12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.
Doug Horner tells the story of Gene and Sandy Ralston, a married couple in their 70s. They spend much time every year traveling to search sites or on the water. They are recognized experts at searching for and finding missing bodies of the dead. They have a fantastic talent for doing so (Theguardian.com, 1-16-2020).
When people drown without a trace, it is very difficult on friends and family. Without the body’s recovery, there is little chance for “closure.” But in addition to that, there is something called “ambiguous loss.” The absence of the body creates legal problems for courts, banks, insurance companies, and creditors. According to Robert Jarvis, a law professor at the Shepard Broad College of Law in Florida, such a circumstance “freezes the person who is missing, it freezes all of their assets, and it freezes all of their loved ones or anybody else who’s depending upon them.”
Perhaps the most well-known of all missing bodies is that of the Lord Jesus Christ. We all know the story. He died on a cross and was buried. On the third day, the stone that had sealed the tomb was rolled away, and the body was missing. It was perhaps the most “ambiguous loss” of all time.
Lies were immediately spun. Fake news was immediately spread via word-of-mouth.
11 Some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened.
12 A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe.
13 They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’
14 If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.”
15 So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely . . .
Who Moved the Stone was first written in 1930 by Frank Morison. He was an investigative journalist and a skeptic of Christianity. He set out to disprove the Christian faith by showing the resurrection of Christ to be a farce.
The strangeness of the Resurrection story had captured his attention. He decided to prove once and for all that the story of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was only a myth. He probed, he investigated, and he went over and over the New Testament writings that referenced it. He focused on the Gospels. But something amazing happened!
The evidence demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. It was the only explanation that fit all the known facts of history. Only one thing was needed to prove that Christianity was a farce. The missing body of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The body would never have been found even if Gene and Sandy Ralston had been on the scene and thoroughly investigated. The Lord Jesus Christ was no longer dead but miraculously raised from the dead.
REFLECT & PRAY
1 Corinthians 15:17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins
Father I pray that I will be able to understand the incredible greatness of Your mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at Your right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:19-20).
As Paul Harvey used to say, here is the rest of the story.
1 The new day was dawning; Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.
2 Suddenly, there was a great earthquake! An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.
4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him and fell into a dead faint.
5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come see where his body was lying.
7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
8 The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.
3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb.
4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5 He stooped, looked in, and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in.
6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there,
7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.
8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed–
9 for until then, they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.
The fact that the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty is an undeniable historical fact. That the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead was no “ambiguous loss.”
He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
In 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, “Paul argues ad absurdum to show how futile the Christian faith would be if there were no resurrection of the dead. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then how can Christ be raised from the dead? If Christ is not raised from the dead, then everything based on that belief collapses in a heap of broken dreams” (Garland).
If only Gene and Sandy Ralston could be caught up into heaven, they would have solved the greatest body hunt of all time. In all of His glory, they would see not a long-dead lost body but rather the living Lord Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of God the Father. Instead of an “ambiguous loss,” it would be quite the opposite, a decisive, straightforward miraculous find.
© Dr. H 2022