Thursday, September 29, 2011


 by Dr. Norberto L. Mercado
            Today is Palm Sunday. It is the "first day" of the Lenten Season.
            Today, we commemorate the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, on a lowly donkey, not on a conqueror's white horse.
            But when He will come again, He won't ride on a donkey anymore. He will ride on the most powerful white horse (Rev. 19).

            I am deeply convinced that of all the religious leaders who walked the face of this earth, Jesus Christ is the most unique of them all.
            Buddha, Mohammed, Marx (Marxism is a religion - the worship of human leaders), and all religious leaders died and their bodies decayed.
            But Jesus was buried after He was crucified by the Roman soldiers, and He rose again on the third day (Sunday). He was crucified on a Friday.
            And after He rose again and showed Himself to more than 500 witnesses, the Bible declares that Jesus ascended into Heaven. 
            He showed us that there is life after this present life!

            The Old Testament books prophesied that the coming Messiah would be killed, but He would rise again on the third day.
            The Pharisees (the enemies of Jesus) knew this prophecy because they all studied the Old Testament.
            So, when Nicodemus asked Pontius Pilate permission to bury Jesus' body in his (Nicodemus') tomb, a request which was granted, the High Priest of the Pharisees, Caiaphas, also went to Pontius Pilate afterwards and asked the Roman Procurator of Judea to assign Roman soldiers to guard the tomb.
            Caiaphas told Pontius Pilate his fear that the disciples might steal the body of Jesus, and then they would  say that Jesus rose from the grave in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy.
            Therefore, the tomb must be guarded.
            Pontius Pilate granted the request of Caiaphas. He assigned an elite company of Roman soldiers - ready to kill and be killed - to guard the tomb.
            Nicodemus and his assistants hauled Jesus' body from the cross after sunset. This was on a Friday.
            Caiaphas should have gone to Pontius Pilate immediately after.
            The following day was a Saturday, the Sabbath day of the Jews.
            It was the day of rest.

            THEN SUNDAY CAME

            Early Sunday, Mary Magdalene and her companions went to the tomb where Jesus was laid. 
            The tomb was open.  The large stone which shut it was moved.
            Who moved the stone?
            Why was the tomb empty?

            THE SUSPECTS:

            1. It  was probably Peter and the apostles who went to the tomb on Saturday night, or at dawn on Sunday and stole Jesus' body. But wait a minute.
How could Peter do this when he was so scared when Jesus was arrested that he denied Him three times before the cock crew? And the Four Gospels recorded that Peter himself run to the tomb when Mary Magdalene told him that the body of Jesus was missing. When he entered the tomb, indeed, Jesus' body was not there. So it could not be him who stole the body.
             2. If it was not Peter who led the apostles, it could be Thomas. But wait. When Jesus had already risen from the dead and He had shown Himself to several of His disciples, it was Thomas the Apostle who said, "Unless I see His pierced hands and His wounded body, I will not believe!"  So it could not be Thomas.
             3. Any of the apostles and disciples. But wait a minute. They were all scared to death and were hiding from the Roman soldiers and from the Pharisees.
             4. Mary Magdalene and the other women. But they themselves wondered who stole the body.
             5. Mary, the mother of Jesus. Or Mary and Martha. But wait a minute. Were they physically strong enough to overpower the fully armed Roman guards?
             6. What about the Roman soldiers who were assigned to guard the tomb? But wait a minute. Pilate ordered that the Roman Imperial seal be marked on his written order that the tomb be guarded by the Roman soldiers.  The soldiers knew what disobedience to authority meant  - death!  If they were remiss of their duty, and the apostles succeeded in stealing the body, they knew that they would all receive the death penalty for their disobedience. So it could not be the soldiers.
             5. What about Pontius Pilate or Caiaphas? But what will they do with the body of Jesus? They were not deranged men to do this. They were the enemies of Jesus!
             So, who moved the stone?  Who stole the body of Jesus?


             Right after the resurrection of Christ in the early moment of the third day after He was crucified, the Roman officer and his soldiers rushed to Caiaphas the High Priest and told  Him a scary but wonderful story -  Jesus rose to life!
             The Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb told Caiaphas that there was an earthquake, and then an angel appeared. And then the tomb opened.
             The scared soldiers told Caiaphas that it was most likely the angel who moved the large stone and opened the tomb! And they all fell to the ground, scared to death at what was happening.  And they said that Jesus' body was gone!
             The soldiers were so scared even after the incident because they knew the penalty they will receive  -  death!
             It was the Roman soldiers who testified before Caiaphas : the body of Jesus was missing!  
             The Roman soldiers knew that what Caiaphas feared would happen came true :  
             And because Jesus has risen, there is life after death!
             And our lives can have meaning!
             Jesus Christ has conquered death!
             THE LORD IS RISEN!!!!

                                                   Written on Palm Sunday, 8-9 PM,April 1,2007
                                                   In an Internet Cafe at Tandang Sora, Quezon City

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