And not because the Bible says so…
On the third day the women approach the tomb. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, just as He said.”
“Over the next 40 days Jesus appeared to many, showing Himself by many “infallible proofs.” Paul the apostle, who once persecuted and killed Christians recounted that Jesus appeared to Mary and Mary Magdalene, Peter, the other disciples, James, the other apostles, a crowd of more than 500 of His followers at one time the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. So many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ’s tomb that it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the dead. Consider these facts:
1) The Broken Roman seal at the tomb would have resulted in being executed by crucifixion upside down. The disciples displayed signs of cowardice while Jesus was still alive. To take a chance on getting caught stealing the body was not on their agenda. They all ran and hid when Jesus was tried and convicted. Peter even denied Him three times.
2) Another obvious fact after the resurrection was the empty tomb. The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be evident. The empty tomb was “too notorious to be denied.”
3) Those who observed the 1-2 ton stone that once sealed the tomb door, after the resurrection describe its position as having been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but from the entire massive sepulcher. It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. If the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus’ body, how could they have done that without the guards’ awareness?
4) The Roman guards full of fear, fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Such offenses required the death penalty. The fear of their superiors’ wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. They all left their post.
5) John, a disciple of Jesus, looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes, in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty–like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar’s cocoon. John never did get over it. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes–undisturbed in form and position.
6) Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ’s appearances is that He not only appeared to those who knew and followed Him, he also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced. No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ’s followers. It was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.
7) There is a theory that the women who reported that the body was missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. If so, then the disciples who went to check up on the women’s statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. We may be certain, however, that Jewish authorities, who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ body from being stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. Nor would the Roman guards, for they were there! If the resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake, the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb, thus effectively quenching for all time any rumor resurrection.
8) Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were either illusions or hallucinations. Nowhere in history has there ever been an account of mass hallucination.
9) Another theory says that Jesus didn’t die; he merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. Everyone thought Him dead, but later He resuscitated and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. The cruelest, most agonizing form of death is crucifixion. He died. The Roman soldiers knew He died. Most people crucified were left to rot on the cross. Days later what was left of them was peeled off of the cross and discarded in a dump. There is no possibility he lived through the agony. The Roman soldiers made certain of that.
10) There is the theory that body was stolen by the disciples while the guards slept. The depression and cowardice of the disciples provide a hard-hitting argument against their suddenly becoming so brave and daring as to face a detachment of soldiers at the tomb and steal the body is preposterous. They were in no mood to attempt anything like that. The theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ’s body is no more reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the disciples. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was, why, when the disciples were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, didn’t they explain: “Wait! We moved the body, see, He didn’t rise from the grave”?
11) The most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ? Had there been any visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts–prestige, wealth, increased social status or material benefits–we might logically attempt to account for their actions, for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this “risen Christ .” As a reward for their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking. Yet, they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and the Risen Savior of the World.
12) How do you evaluate this overwhelming historical evidence? What is your decision about the fact of Christ’s empty tomb? What do you think of Christ? What difference does all this evidence make to me? What difference does it make whether or not I believe Christ rose again and died on the cross for my sins? The answer is put best by something Jesus said to a man who doubted–Thomas. Jesus told him: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6) On the basis of all the evidence for Christ’s resurrection, and considering the fact that Jesus offers forgiveness of sin and an eternal relationship with God, would you receive Him as your personal Savior and make Him the Lord of your life?
To be continued? Your move…