Picture the scene, a Policewoman is sat at a desk taking notes. A Detective is roaming around thinking hard about the case and responding t her persistent and disbelieving questions.
Policewoman: OK Gov, so this time we’re not investigating the case of a dead body, we’re investigating the case of a life one.
Detective: That’s right. Unorthodox isn’t it! There’s a man who was dead and has come back alive again. At least that’s what some of his friends are saying.
Policewoman: Right Gov, can we go over this one more time. I’ve never heard anything like this before. What’s the evidence? What proof is there that he’s alive?
Detective: There are three bits of evidence. First, he was definitely dead.
Policewoman: How do we know?
Detective: He was killed by the Roman soldiers. They were good at their job. They got paid to execute people. They got in trouble if they didn’t. They thrust a spear into his side just to make sure he was dead. They checked him out before they took him off the cross. Then they gave the body to Joseph of Arimathea. He then buried him.
Policewoman: And you’re sure he was dead, Gov?
Detective: Absolutely, the soldiers wouldn’t have given the body away unless they were sure he was a goner.
Policewoman: OK so he was definitely dead. What’s next?
Detective: Second, he was not there.
Policewoman: Gov, what do you mean he wasn’t there? He wasn’t where?
Detective: What I mean is that the tomb was empty. His body disappeared from the place where he was buried.
Policewoman: You’re sure they went to the right tomb?
Detective: Absolutely certain. And even if they’d made a mistake the first time they’d have gone back and found the right one after people started saying he was alive again.
Policewoman: Couldn’t someone have taken it?
Detective: That’s a possibility but it’s not very likely.
Policewoman: What about his followers? After all they knew that he said he would come back to life again. Perhaps they stole the body to look like he had.
Detective: Not likely, they were scared stiff. They ran away after his death and hid in a house in Jerusalem.
Policewoman: Couldn’t the religious leaders have taken the body?
Detective: Not likely, they tried to cover up the fact that his body had gone by paying the soldiers to say that they’d fallen asleep and that the disciples had stolen it.
Policewoman: Couldn’t grave robbers have taken the body?
Detective: Not likely, they left behind the only thing of value; the grave clothes. No one would steal a body because you couldn’t do anything with it.You couldn’t sell a dead body for love nor money in first century Palestine.
Policewoman: OK Gov, so he wasn’t there. So far we know he was definitely dead and that we don’t know where his body is but that doesn’t mean he came back to life does it?
Detective: No, but there’s another piece of evidence.
Policewoman: What’s that?
Detective: He was seen alive.
Policewoman: You’re kidding me. Who saw him? Is it just one person saying this? When did they see him? Are you sure it was after he had died?
Detective: We’ve got witness statements from over 500 people all of whom saw him after he’d died. There’s a bloke called Thomas who saw him in a room in Jerusalem. A lady called Mary who saw him in the Garden at the cemetery. There’s his 12 followers who saw him fishing. There are more. Do you want me to go through them all?
Policewoman: No you’re fine Gov. But this is unbelievable.
Detective: I agree, but there’s no other conclusion. This guy is definitely alive.
Policewoman: And what’s this man’s name again?
Detective: Jesus Christ.
Now that’s just a drama. But all the facts are true. You’ll find them in the Bible. But what does it all mean? It means that Jesus is alive. He’s not dead. He’s defeated death and in the words of Rico Tice, ‘the coffin is an exitless box. He got through death and he can get us through as well’. Awesome.
This was the guts of an assembly that Polly and I did at a local Balham School. The kids loved it. Not sure the staff were all that keen on the clarity of explanation! But I didn’t make any of the stuff up. Apart from the Policewoman, the Detective and the nick! It’s nto for lack of evidence that people don’t believe. It’s for lack of willing.