The Resurrection of Jesus is the most significant event in all of history.
The Pyramids of Egypt are famous because they contain the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Westminster Abbey in London is revered because in it rest the bodies of English nobles and notables. Mohammed's tomb is noted for the stone coffin and the bones it contains. Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D. C., is honored as the resting place of many outstanding Americans.
But the Garden Tomb of Jesus is famous because it is empty!
One local advice column received a letter from "Bewildered": "Our preacher said that Jesus just swooned on the cross, and the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think?"
The columnist responded, "Beat your preacher with a cat-o-nine tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross, hang him in the hot sun for 8 hours, run a spear through his heart, embalm him, put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours, and see what happens."
The Resurrection of Jesus is one of the best documented facts of history. Read the Gospel accounts and 1 Corinthians 15:3-9. In addition to the NT accounts, the Resurrection is referenced in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus, among others.
Let's look at the event itself. The centurion overseeing the crucifixion had certainly seen death before, and he declared Jesus to be dead. And the guards, under penalty of death if they deserted their post, ran away from the tomb at what they had seen.
The empty tomb was the first indication to the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. On the first Easter morning, the women who came to complete the embalming of Jesus expected to find the tomb sealed by an enormous stone. They wondered how they would be able to roll it away to gain access to the body. When they arrived, they found the tomb open and empty.
Not only was the body missing, but angels proclaimed that Jesus had risen.
The position of the grave clothes looked as though the body had evaporated through them, leaving them undisturbed except for the folded head napkin.
The gospels emphasize that the disciples did not expect to ever see Jesus again. They were afraid and hid.
Over the course of 40 days, Jesus repeatedly appeared to His followers individually, in small groups, and to a gathering of 500. He talked with them, ate with them, and they touched Him. Most of them were still living when the New Testament was written. Certainly, they would have refuted it if it were not true.
If Jesus' enemies had stolen the body, they would have surely produced it to disprove the disciples' preaching of the Resurrection.
But the greatest proof of all is the changed lives of His disciples and millions more down through the ages. If the disciples had stolen the body, as the Jewish leaders claimed, they could never have preached with such conviction nor would they have so courageously suffered martyrs' deaths for a lie. They were transformed from fearful cowards into bold witnesses who declared the fact that Jesus is alive again.
And Jesus is still radically changing lives today.
The Resurrection is the foundation of our Christian faith. In his great treatise on the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, pointed out that "if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our faith is useless, and we are still under the condemnation of sin."
But He did rise from the dead, and whoever believes on Him has eternal life. Jesus said, "Because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19). Because He lives, we have eternal life with Him if we simply accept His sacrifice on the cross as the payment for our sins and live for Him.
If you've never done so, why don't you make this Easter your personal Resurrection Day by receiving the life He wants to give you?