April Devotion by Pastor Noel Ilagan

On Buddha’s Relics and the First Easter
By Pastor Emmanuel Ilagan

While I was working with the Christian Conference of Asia (the umbrella organization of churches and church councils in Asia) I had the opportunity to visit several Asian countries.

These countries take pride in their natural scenic beauty and interesting cultural sites. Many of the latter are religious in nature, such as the Emerald Buddha in Thailand, relics of some of the bones of Buddha’s fingers in China and a left canine tooth of Buddha in Sri Lanka. Believers hope for good fortune if they are able to visit these relics; some even venerate them.

The founders of the other great world religions also have relics related to their lives.

Are there relics associated with Jesus? There are claims of relics of a piece of wood from the cross used in the crucifixion, a nail, a part of the crown of thorns, the Shroud of Turin, the tunic of Jesus, and so on.

We do not know if the tooth claimed to be Buddha’s is authentic; the same may be said about the relics associated with Jesus mentioned above.

But one thing is certain: if someone claimed to have found a tooth of Jesus, or a fragment of His bone, that would be a lie. Buddha like the other founders of the world’s religions died, remained dead and relics are possible. Jesus Christ died but did not remain dead; instead He rose from the dead.

The chief priests and Pharisees who orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus took extraordinary precautions to secure the tomb where Jesus was laid. They did not want the disciples of Jesus stealing His body and then proclaiming that He had been raised from the dead. They asked Pilate to assign soldiers to seal the tomb and guard it.

But the guards did not realize they had signed up for something beyond anything they have encountered in any battlefield. On that first Easter morning there was a great earthquake and the guards were confronted by an angel whose appearance was literally out of this world that the guards shook and became like dead men.

They reported this to the chief priests who then devised a cover-up. They bribed the guards to spread the report that Jesus’ disciples had stolen His body (Mt. 27:62ff; chap. 28).

There are no relics of any part of Jesus’ body. There is only an empty tomb. Christ is risen from the grave and He lives. And that makes all the difference in the world!

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