Revelation 1:18   I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

As 1st Century Judaism struggled to come to terms with the clear, observable witness of an empty tomb in Jerusalem, a tomb upon which they had placed a guarded seal in an attempt to counter any foul play by Jesus’ followers, they had three options open to them if they were going to silence the vocal riff-raff who were proclaiming to have seen him alive.

The first option was to search high and low for the dead body of the crucified Jesus .  The second was to claim that Jesus had NOT really DIED on the cross, but had only become comatose.  The third was to accuse the disciples of stealing the dead body and disposing of it  completely.

The time has really long passed for having any success with the first option, but there has been no shortage of people during the last 2,000 years who have argued strongly for either or both of the other two!  The reason for these entrenched ‘anti-Resurrection’ attitudes is made clear by the Apostle Paul in his speech at the Areopagus: “For [God] has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.  He has given PROOF of this to ALL men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31).

After experiencing the disciples’ having to deal with these false rumours for six decades, the Risen Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the Apostle John in a vision, making the FACT of the Resurrection abundantly clear. “I am the Living One; I WAS DEAD [NOT comatose], and behold I am alive for ever and ever! [I have actually DEFEATED death]”.  Paul affirms this claim: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death … … the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’” (1 Corinthians 15:26, 54b).  Moreover, while the Lord was reassuring John about all this, he added his affirmation of Paul’ divisive declaration at the Areopagus by saying, “And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

In the light of all this, for all our to-ing and fro-ing and hypothesising about the Resurrection, and whether or not it’s scientifically ‘possible’ on OUR terms, it remains crucial for every person to face up to the dire consequences of DENYING it!  Jesus IS ALIVE!  Jesus DID DIE as an atoning sacrifice for our sin.  The LIVING Jesus WILL COME BACK as JUDGE.  When he does, will we be longing for his coming as our personal SAVIOUR, or will we be found among those at the Areopagus who ‘sneered’ or who were waiting for more convincing ‘proof’ before committing themselves to the One who ‘HOLDS THE KEYS of death and Hades’?