HARRY ABRAMS — The tomb is Empty: He Rose
Published 12:02 am Friday, March 12, 2021
The central doctrine of Christianity that affirms that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day is the undeniable, undisputed resurrection.
Without the resurrection, the apostle Paul declared, Christian preaching and belief in God becomes meaningless. (I Corinthians 15:14). The resurrection is the point at which God’s intention for Jesus becomes clear (Romans 1:4) and believers are assured that Jesus is not simply a Christ, but THE Christ.
As we look forward to celebrating Easter, the resurrection is so significant, and without it there would be no church or Christianity and we would still be in our sins.
The tomb was empty. Some critics argue that because Paul does not speak of an empty tomb, the idea of the resurrection of Jesus must have developed years after his earthly life and ministry was over.
Paul refers to the burial (I Corinthians 15:4), which argues both for a proper tomb and against the body being dumped into a pit or a common criminal’s grave.
Critics have also pointed to variations in the account of Jesus’ resurrection in the gospels, such as how many women came to the tomb and who they were.
What were their reasons to come and anoint Jesus’ body or to see the tomb?
Was there one angel or two at the tomb?
All the critics knew the tomb was empty; because if it had not been empty, the body would have soon been supplied. The only other alternative left by the critics is to suggest His disciples stole the body, as the Jews (Matthew 28:13) and some other modern critics have suggested.
Such a view is self-defeating because the gospel accounts themselves witness to the surprise of the women and the disciples about the empty tomb.
While this may seem incredible to us, the gospel writers generally refrain from using the empty tomb as the basis for faith! The stone was not rolled away to let Jesus out; He did not need open doors to move about (Luke 24:31, 36; John 20: 19, 26).
The stone was removed to begin communicating the resurrection to the followers of Jesus. The empty tomb did not convince them that Jesus was alive! It was at first frustrating to the disciples and seemed like idle tales (Luke 24:11).
Something happened! Otherwise, what is all the talk and debate about for over two thousand years?
While the people began talking about the empty tomb seem to have little to do with faith of these early Christians, the appearances of Jesus are clearly at the heart of early Christian belief.
The consistent witness of the New Testament is that in the appearances of Jesus something incredible has happened. That is an undeniable fact and an unexplainable phenomenon.
The two followers in Emmaus upon realizing it was the risen Jesus, forgot their concern with the lateness of the hour and rushed back to Jerusalem to tell others (Luke 24:29-33).
We have doubting Thomas uttering Christianity’s greatest confession when he realized that the risen Jesus was addressing him (John 21:27).
Peter left his fishing nets for good when the RISEN Savior asked him, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15). What would you do? Jesus has risen from the tomb and revealing himself to humanity. Only GOD could perform such a task.
What was the nature of these appearances?
Jesus could be touched (Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:39; John 20:27) or that He could eat (Luke 24:41-42).
When the New testament writers speak of the resurrection of Jesus, they are bearing witness not to what God did for them, but what God did to Jesus.
As a result of what God did to Jesus, human lives were transformed.
The Rev. Harry Abrams writes about faith for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.