Adapted from email sent February 4, 2016 8:40 AM
Subject: Seeing the movie "Risen" with Dave last night
Dave, some of my thoughts
1. One of the lines in the movie, inferring "Jesus didn't suffer long", since, I was young, I've heard Jesus's death "belittled", yes, that he'd only had a short time on the cross, maybe 6 hours, unlike others who suffered for days. There's no mentioning of those previous 30 hours or so since early Thursday morning, Judas having arranged for his betrayal, the agony (mentally, socially, physically) of what he then endured. Nor of what he battled over the next 36 hours or so with Satan and his army. Yes, a bit hard I suppose getting all that into the movie, but it would have been great to see something more, rather than that "he got it easy" inference.
2. As far as Pilate was concerned, that going and searching for the dead body and the disciples uh-uh, Jesus was a "righteous" man, a bit mad perhaps (but Pilate as that link shows had his wife on his back). And Pilate was a politician, he did not want a bad report of his governorship going back to Rome. So yes, wash my hands of this, it's in their "too hard" basket, with all their arguing over "jots and tittles". You want a guard, ok you have one, look just get on your way, you're the ones responsible that the tomb's failsafe.
In some ways Pilate was a pretty smart man, his decision that he would give the people the logical choice between his releasing Barabbas, a rioter and murderer, or releasing Jesus on the Passover, shows his clear aim not to be associated with those chief holy men, with their spite and envy. And later, when everyone came to their senses, when those chief priests had passed on, it could also be shown that Rome had NOT been the instigator in this madness.
Just a side note, Pilate arguing about their God "Yahweh" and, talking about "jots and tittles" the word "Yahweh" was first spoken in 1869 by some German theologians, then taken up by the Catholics in the Jerusalem Bible translation in 1966. But to the Romans 2,000 years ago, in Latin, Jove was the personal name of the chief God, and the Jews accordingly never spoke the word, it was written, with vowel points (thought by many to be the word "Jehovah"), but it had been inexpressible for hundreds of years. So Pilate couldn't have been hearing it, only their Hebrew word "Adonai" for Lord and "Elohim" for God. To Pilate, Dominus (for Lord) and Deus (for God), those were the Latin equivalents.
For extra insight, click here for a decree made by Augustus Caesar about 1 BC, his respect for the Jewish customs, their holy days and their "highest god".
3. Caiaphas met with all the chief priests, and elders, to work out how to handle the matter of the body missing. I think, as far as the Pharisees were concerned, Jesus, the deceiver, his power came from Satan and that angel that made the guards keel over (like dead men), and that earthquake, yes, all evil.
So, yes, pay the guards a big bunch of money, they slept and the disciples stole the body. They would've found it a bit awkward over the next 5-6 weeks, Jesus being said to be seen by 500 people at one point
Don't worry about Pilate, if the word of the guards "sleeping" does get back to him, he's not going to want to buy into this. Here's the main thing, if the guards can consistently declare that testimony, no worries, from a politician's perspective, the key thing is that the people are told that it's a big "con", settle the whole thing down. If we keep a lid on this together, no way he'll want to stir up a hornet's nest.
4. Now the disciples (and ladies) were scared, all through the next 7 weeks, and thrilled at what they were seeing, Jesus's resurrection, but for the future it's like "what does all this mean?". Stay in Jerusalem, says Jesus when he leaves them on the Mount of Olives, and not in Galilee, wait for the Holy Spirit, he's with you and will be in you.
And their attitude to soldiers generally was that soldiers were unholy, Mary was also ashamed of her previous life, the soldiers were messengers of Satan in many ways. We know Peter was quite uncomfortable after Jesus's prophecy about Peter's coming death by crucifixion, so for a disciple to appear unconcerned and laugh after the tribune had been bullying him and telling him what went on using nails and stuff, yes, Bartholomew comes over as a bit of an idiot, really out of touch in that scene with him.
But yes, as you said last night Dave, it's Hollywood, and as we prayed afterwards, yes, may the Lord use it, even in promoting discussions like this.
Blessings all Steve
Addendum: On a somewhat related matter regarding Mary and the other women, click here for a reconciliation of the four accounts in the four gospels on that world-changing Sunday, the day of the resurrection.
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