By Hon Paul Green
As Christian’s we believe the evidence presented in the Bible as infallible word of God, and therefore we believe that Jesus Christ did in fact rise from the dead. But historical evidence exists that confirms the resurrection of Jesus that even cynics cannot ignore.
There are three truths that most scholars, even critics, accept point to the resurrection of Jesus.
1. The tomb Jesus was buried in and was then found empty.
2. The disciple’s accounts and experiences with the risen Jesus.
3. The preaching by the disciples, which focused on the resurrection resulting in the growth of the Christian church.
We will look closely at the truth of the empty tomb and the extensive material there is supporting this truth.
1. The preaching of Jesus resurrection started in Jerusalem, the same city he had died and been buried in. This
proclamation would not have lasted a single day if the fact of an empty tomb could be disputed.
2. The Jews were enemies of the message of Jesus Christ and could not deny that the tomb was empty. But rather they tried to explain the tomb being empty by accusing the disciples of stealing the body. As hostile witnesses, the Jews could not deny the truth of an empty tomb.
3. The account in the gospel of Mark of the empty tomb was from a source that originated within seven years of the event. The timeframe for this account, from the event is too short for it to just be a legend or fable.
4. The empty tomb is supported through historical reliability.
Jesus was buried by a man from the Jewish Sanhedrein, Joseph. As a member of the ruling class, and his status within the community, made him too highly esteemed for fake stories regarding his involvement with the burial of Jesus to continue to be spread. With the story of his burial well known, involving a man of status, the location of his tomb was well known and therefore the story of the empty tomb could have been easily refuted.
5. The absence of a shrine at the tomb. It was custom to set up a shrine at the location of a holy man’s bones, and at the time of Jesus’ death there were at least 50 in the city when Jesus was buried, but the lack of a shrine at the place of Jesus burial supports the truth that the tomb was empty.
6. The account of the empty tomb started due to the women who discovered his tomb was empty. This is important because in Jewish culture at that time the testimony of a woman had little to no value.
Therefore, if the testimonies of individuals who at times were despised and worthless in that culture held enough ground to last until these days, then they were true in their statements.
The evidence supporting an empty tomb is convincing that all serious scholars today support these claims. Theories to explain an empty tomb such as the body being stolen do not stack up. The Romans and Jews wanted to supress Christianity, so stealing the body of Jesus is in opposition to their motives. And the disciples experienced persecution and death as a result of preaching the resurrected Jesus, why would they do this for a lie and a cover up?
Therefore there is no plausible explanation for the empty tomb, other than the resurrection of our Jesus Christ.
Given the evidence and in light of the Easter message, we can hold onto the hope of Christ’s claims to be the exclusive gateway to the Father and eternal life. Not riches, or fame, or good works, or earthly accolades will qualify one of us to relationship with the Father, without the work of Christ. Otherwise Christ would not have had to come and die a horrible death on the cross to purchase our salvation and restore our relationship to the Father.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6