Jesus Did Not Play Possum After The Cross
A possum is a pretty familiar sight to us here in central Pennsylvania. We see them dead along our roads all the time. It’s almost impossible to drive from Orbisonia to Huntingdon and back without seeing a road kill possum along the road, it happens so frequently. There’s a joke that says, Why did the chicken cross the road? You’ve got the wrong joke if you think it was so it could get to the other side. The chicken crossed the road to prove to the possum that it could be done. You might think that possums are kind of dumb considering how many dead ones you see along our highways, but they’re smarter than you might think. Possums can and often do “play dead” when threatened. This may cause a dog that attacked them to walk away, thinking they are already dead. When the threat is gone, the possum simply walks away itself. Of course if a possum plays dead for a coyote, the coyote will have an easy meal. Sometimes the critics of Christianity have claimed that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, but that He was just “playing possum”, so to speak, so He really didn’t resurrect Himself from the dead on Easter Sunday morning, and we Christians are fools to believe such nonsense. When the Romans nailed people to crosses they would often hang there in agony alive for days. But since Jesus and the two thieves were crucified right before the Jewish holy days, the Jews didn’t want people hanging on crosses during their holy days. So they asked Pilate if he would have the Roman guards break the legs of Jesus and the two thieves crucified with Him, so that they wouldn’t be able to support their body and last for a few days on their crosses, like people often did. If your legs were broken so that you couldn’t support yourself you would die within a few minutes by suffocating. Pilate agreed and ordered it to be done. John 19:32 says that the guards broke the legs of the two thieves, hitting them with a big club or mallet. They died quickly. But vs. 33 that follows, says that when they got to Jesus He “was dead already”. So, they didn’t bother to break His legs. This fulfilled Psalm 34:20 which prophesied, “he keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.” But just to make sure Jesus wasn’t “playing possum” , vs. 34 says that one of the Roman guards “pierced his side with a spear”, just to be sure. So, if you want proof that Jesus was really dead, you don’t have to take His followers words for it. The Roman soldiers were sure of it before they took Jesus’ body down from the cross and gave it to Joseph of Arimathaea to bury in his tomb. Jesus clearly was not “playing possum” as some of the enemies of Christianity have tried to claim over the years! My grand pap taught me when I was young and we would be out hunting and trapping in the snow that if a possum came to a hole and saw one set of tracks going into that hole, he wouldn’t enter it because he knew something was in there. But if he saw a set going in and coming out he knew it was safe to go in. Just like a possum, we don’t have to be afraid of our own death or of going into our own grave because there are tracks leading into Jesus’ grave from the people who placed Him there, but there’s another set of tracks coming out! That is the message of Easter, probably put different than you’ve ever heard it before! Jesus walked out of His own grave, under His own power, alive, after being there for three days and nights! He had indeed risen from the dead! He conquered sin and death and the grave, and because He did we too can! I hope that every time you see a dead possum run over this spring that it will serve to remind you that you don’t have to be afraid of your own death, if you’re trusting in what Jesus did on the cross for you and you are living for Him! How can I be so sure about all this? Because Jesus changed my life and He lives in my own heart right now! In the days following the morning of Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared not only to His disciples, but to quite a few people, the scriptures tell us. Paul tells us I Corinthians 15:6 that on one occasion Jesus “was seen of above five hundred brethren at once”. Easter may be behind us for another year now, but we celebrate the resurrection every week in our church, so don’t put the cross and the empty tomb up on the shelf for another year, like some people do. Jesus is alive today, and He is still capable of saving you from your sins and of giving you new life in Christ today, if you will humble yourself at the foot of the cross, and repent of your sins, and accept Jesus as you Savior from your sins. Don’t wait for another year to roll around. You may not live to see another spring or Easter, so I urge you to call upon the name of the Lord while you still can!